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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Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?