Kyle Busch wins Cup pole at CMS; brother Kurt hits fastest qualifying speed on 1.5-mile track in NASCAR history

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CONCORD, N.C. – There’s something about winning poles for Kyle Busch.

Busch has won six poles in each of his six Nationwide Series starts this season, as well as in four of his six Truck Series starts.

Thursday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the younger Busch brother went out and earned his third pole of 2014 in the Sprint Cup Series, putting him atop the field to start Saturday night’s Bank of America 500.

Busch earned the point with a run of 197.390 mph, his second NSCS pole at Charlotte this season and 16th overall pole of his career.

“It seemed like the guy that was most consistent was able to win the pole tonight,” Busch told ESPN. “I felt real good about all three of them.

“We’d like to come out of here with a solid weekend and put us in a good spot to continue in this Chase.”

Jeff Gordon will start on the outside pole, covering the 1.5-mile track at a second-best speed of 197.217 mph.

“It’s so fast, so much grip, so much commitment,” Gordon said. “That’s a great effort. Practicing here during the day and qualifying at night is so tough.

“… This is a really, really good position to start Saturday’s race. … Hopefully we can come out of here with a win. That’ll make Talladega a lot easier.”

Denny Hamlin will start third (197.087 mph), followed by Tony Stewart (196.542), Ryan Newman (196.442), Paul Menard (196.100), Kevin Harvick (195.387), Brian Vickers (195.744), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (194.953), Carl Edwards (194.861), Kurt Busch (194.328) and Greg Biffle (191.598).

In the first of the three qualifying rounds, Kasey Kahne went out and set a new track record (197.976 mph), followed by 20 other drivers to exceed that mark.

And then in the second round, Kurt Busch quickly re-set the fresh new record with an outstanding run of 198.771 mph.

Kurt Busch’s mark was the fastest qualifying run on a 1.5-mile track in NASCAR history. It also was the 21st track record that has been broken this season, according to NASCAR statisticians.

Ironically, after Kahne set the track record in the first round of qualifying, he failed to advance in the second round as Kurt Busch moved on to the final field of 12 qualifiers – but could not better his own new track record.

Jimmie Johnson, who is ranked an unprecedented last in the 12-driver Chase field, failed to get out of the second round of qualifying.

Even though Johnson is a seven-time winner at CMS, his qualifying effort certainly doesn’t bode well for him to try and dig himself out of the hole he finds himself in the standings.

“We just didn’t have the speed on that final run,” Johnson said. “We just didn’t have any more on that lap. It’s disappointing, no way around it.

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Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.