Busch wins the pole at Vegas

2-29-08 - Kyle Busch carried his hot start to the season into his hometown Friday, winning the pole at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Busch ran a fast lap of 182.352 mph in his Toyota Camry to take the top starting spot for Sunday’s race. The 22-year-old is having a fabulous start to the season—he hasn’t finished lower than fourth in six races spanning three series—and returned to Las Vegas this week as the Sprint Cup Series points leader.

It’s the first time in his career that Busch has been on top of the standings, and he’s also leading the Truck Series standings. He’s second to Tony Stewart, his teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, in the Nationwide Series standings.

While Busch is enjoying the perks of being on top of his sport, he’s downplaying his hold on the standings. Busch has a six-point advantage over Ryan Newman.

“It’s cool, it’s fun and it’s great and all, but we’re two weeks in. We need it two weeks to go,” Busch said. “There’s a lot of stuff, a lot of laps and a lot of corners to go through and a lot of pit stops and everything else.

“Hopefully we can keep it and ride this wave for however long it lasts. I’m a pretty good surfer, so it shouldn’t be too hard.”

Carl Edwards, winner of Monday’s rain-postponed race in California, qualified second with a lap of 181.586 in his Ford. Mark Martin qualified third in a Chevrolet, followed by Jeff Gordon in a Chevy and Mike Skinner, who replaced Jacques Villeneuve in a Bill Davis Racing Toyota. Greg Biffle was fifth, followed by Scott Riggs, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler.

The qualifying session marked the first time NASCAR grouped together all the drivers not locked into the field to make their runs at the same time of the day, and Patrick Carpentier bumped A.J. Allmendinger from the field as the last driver to make his attempt.

Carpentier, one of the six Dodge drivers who wrecked in Friday’s practice session, qualified for his first start of the season. He’ll start 12th.

Although Allmendinger missed the race for the third time this season, Toyota still placed 10 cars in the field, the most the manufacturer has qualified since entering the Cup Series.

Also failing to qualify was Johnny Sauter, who was behind the wheel of the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford because Jon Wood passed on racing it this weekend because of the pressure of getting his family’s car into the field. Sauter wrecked on his qualifying lap.

Busch, meanwhile, will be searching for his first win of the season on Sunday after near-misses in the first two events. He dominated the Daytona 500 but faded to fourth late in the event and was also fourth in California.

He has finished second to Stewart in both Nationwide races, and was second in the season-opening Daytona truck race before finally scoring his first win of the season with a truck victory in California.

Now he wants a Cup win.

“It’s great to be on the pole at my home track, but it would be even greater to be standing over there in Victory Lane after 400 miles,” he said after qualifying.


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