NASCAR: Another pole for Busch

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 18, 2011

By Noah Trister
Associated Press
BROOKLYN, Mich. ó Another race, another pole for Kurt Busch. This is a drill heís happy to get used to.
ěTo be on the pole three weeks, what it does ó there are so many benefits behind the scenes,î Busch said. ěPicking your pit selection first, having track position right away in the race. … You could have a slow pit crew, and you have that first pit box, thatís going to help you get out in front of guys throughout the day.î
Busch won his third consecutive pole in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, finishing first in qualifying Saturday at Michigan International Speedway with a lap of 188.699 miles per hour. Heís the first driver to win three straight poles since Brian Vickers in 2009, and two qualifying sessions were canceled during that streak. The last person to win three poles in three races was Ryan Newman in 2007.
Busch is sixth in the points standings and has finished in the top 10 three straight races, including a second-place showing last weekend at Pocono Raceway. He has not won in 2011, but heís enjoyed better results after taking his Penske Racing team to task earlier this season.
ěIím thankful that everybody was able to pull together and understand that we should just try something different,î he said. ěItís great to be able to see the results pop up so soon. I had no idea that we were right around the corner.î
Busch was forced to a backup car last weekend after damaging his No. 22 Dodge in practice. Thereís been less drama this time around as he prepares for Sundayís 400-mile race.
ěThis was a conventional weekend, so to speak,î he said.
Busch was the pole-sitter in Michigan last June as well, and he finished third.
David Reutimann (188.684 mph) was second in qualifying, and Matt Kenseth (188.620) was third. Vickers, who was fourth, was the leader at one point but Kenseth, Busch and Reutimann all posted faster laps toward the end.
ěRight there at the end a big cloud came over and it cooled down quite a bit,î Vickers said. ěIím sure it helped those guys and they ran pretty good, too.î
Vickers is 26th in the standings. He missed the last 25 races of last season after he was diagnosed in May with a hole in his heart and blood clots down his left leg. Heart surgery in July repaired the hole but also showed he was suffering from May-Thurners syndrome, which caused the clots. He had surgery for the clots the next day.
ěIíve felt great (since the procedure),î Vickers said. ěEverythingís been great.î
Kenseth, who is seventh in the points standings, will start near the front Sunday, and thatís not necessarily a familiar feeling. Kenseth qualified in the top 10 for only the fourth time this season, and he has a hard time relating to Busch, with his three consecutive poles.
ěI donít think Iíve had three poles in 12 years,î said Kenseth, who won only his fifth career pole in Las Vegas in March.
Points leader Carl Edwards was 23rd. Jeff Gordon, coming off a win at Pocono, was 31st. Newman, who set the trackís qualifying record in 2005 at 194.232 mph, was 13th this time around.
Jimmie Johnson was 21st, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., trying to snap a 107-race losing streak on this circuit, qualified in 15th place.
Buschís impressive run of poles brought one obvious question: Would he like drivers to receive points for finishing first in qualifying?
ěIím in no position to speak of that. I think Iíve been lucky these last three weeks. … It would be nice to see one point for a pole,î Busch said.
ěIf Iím the guy sitting on the pole the last three weeks, Iíd have three more points. Would that change me in points? No, it wouldnít. But it would be nice if you had those banked up toward the end of the season.î