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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An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing at Barber

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IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”