Last year’s Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch survived an unusual qualifying session and claimed the pole for Sunday’s 12th annual Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
The No. 18 Skittles machine wound up today’s lone practice session in eighth, giving the No. 18 team confidence headed into the afternoon qualifying session.
The first round of qualifying saw a bizarre incident involving Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 machine. On his cool down lap after his run, Kahne’s car began smoking headed down the backstretch. The driver was able to get out of the car, as endless smoke came billowing out of the cowl flap on the hood.
“I don’t really know, I am just really confused, I have no idea,” said Kahne on the incident, which was later diagnosed down to a EFI protection failure in the car.
The qualifying craziness continued in the final round. Jimmie Johnson was on one of his hot laps when something in the car appeared to break, sending the No. 48 car hard into the wall, forcing the team to go to a backup for Sunday’s race.
“Just a really hard impact with the outside wall, thankful that we have safer barriers and soft walls. Very disappointed because we had such a fast racecar,” said Johnson.
Throughout all the drama, Busch came out on top, earning his third-career pole at the Arizona-based track.
“Real pleased with the effort of this whole team, all the guys did a great job. Our JGR Camry’s are fast. Thanks to Toyota and TRD and Skittles and the M&M’s team and all these guys,” said Busch.
His Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin qualified right behind in second and third for Sunday’s race. In a track where JGR teams tend to struggle, qualifying three of there four cars in the front three is quite the feat.
“We actually had a good car. Just a really strong day for JGR, you know we talked about the struggles here and the guys have definitely put out some great cars,” said Edwards.
Kurt Busch, Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the rest of the top-10 starting lineup. The green flag for Sunday’s Good Sam 500 is set to wave at 3:30 ET on FOX.