Kahne takes pole
By Jenna Fryer
SONOMA, Calif. ó Kasey Kahne continued his recent hot streak Friday by winning the pole at Infineon Raceway for his best career starting position on a road course.
Kahne was the third driver to make his qualifying attempt and his lap around the twisting track at 92.153 mph was good enough to hold the top spot for the entire session. It was his second pole of the season, and second in three weeks.
It’s Kahne’s best start at a road course, bettering the second-place qualifying effort he made at Watkins Glen in 2006. His highest start in Sonoma was sixth that same season.
“To get the pole is always very difficult, especially at these tracks,” Kahne said. “There’s certain guys that seem like they are right there. We’ve been close here in the past, we’ve been close at Watkins Glen. So I felt I could make that one lap and come close to the pole, and we had a great Dodge and we were able to get it.
“I came in today thinking I had a good shot, but winning a pole at Infineon is tougher than it sounds.”
Jimmie Johnson qualified second with a lap at 92.040 and Kurt Busch was third with a lap at 92.005.
Kahne has been on an incredible run since winning the All-Star race last month, backing it up with victories in the Coca-Cola 600 and two weeks ago at Pocono. He was second last week in Michigan.
Bobby Labonte qualified fourth and was followed by five-time Infineon winner Jeff Gordon, Elliott Sadler and Marcos Ambrose. Robby Gordon, Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle rounded out the top 10.
Defending race winner Juan Pablo Montoya qualified 21st and two-time Sonoma winner Tony Stewart was a season-worst 39th.
“I guarantee this is the worst we’ll ever have started on a road course,” Stewart said. “Right now it’s going to be a long way to go.”
Series points leader Kyle Busch needed two qualifying runs after his team failed to remove a strip of tape that was blocking air intake to his car on his first attempt. His second run earned him a season-worst 30th place position.
Failing to make the race were J.J. Yeley, Scott Riggs, Dario Franchitti and Brandon Ash.
Of the many road-racing “ringers” in the field, Boris Said was the best qualifier at 14th. Ron Fellows was 22nd in a one-week fill-in ride for Regan Smith at Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Scott Pruett, a replacement for Reed Sorenson at Chip Ganassi Racing, was 27th and Max Papis, who is filling at Haas-CNC Racing this week, was 28th.