On a cool/crisp Friday evening in America’s heart-land, Matt Kenseth laid down a fast lap in the final round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying that was capable of knocking Dorothy’s socks off and captured the pole for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.

Matt Kenseth after capturing the pole. Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Matt Kenseth after capturing the pole. Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

NASCAR has descended upon Kansas Speedway for the penultimate race in the second round of the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup. In an all-important qualifying session for the twelve drivers still alive with a shot at the championship, seven of them were able to earn a starting spot inside the top-10 – but none were able to knock Kenseth off the top spot.

“It’s nice to get a pole,” said Kenseth after qualifying. “I feel like our qualifying hasn’t been nearly as good this year – as consistent as it has been in the years since I’ve been at JGR.”

It’s the Cambridge, WI native’s first pole of the 2016 season and his third-career pole at Kansas Speedway. The last time Kenseth won the pole at Kansas was 2013, when he went on to also win the race.

“We barely got it,” Kenseth exclaimed. “Obviously our Camry’s have been fast, our DeWalt Flexvolt Camry’s been driving good. Jason Ratcliff (crew chief) made all the right adjustments. Round one we were pretty decent, round two it was off a little bit off and round three it was just right.”

Kenseth's No.20 machine. Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Kenseth’s No.20 machine. Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch just barely missed capturing his fourth pole award of the season on Friday night. In the final round of qualifying, Busch’s lap ended up being 0.001-seconds slower than Kenseth’s, putting the No.18 M&M’s Toyota second on the grid for Sunday.

“Happy with second – especially to Matt,” Busch said in the media center after qualifying. “This is a really good place for him, arguably one of his best tracks. To be second to him is not too shabby.”

Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, AJ Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick, and Austin Dillon rounded out the rest of the top-10 qualifiers for the Hollywood Casino 400.

Sunday’s event will get the green flag at around 1:15ET on NBC. Last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was full of drama and surprises, with many of the Chase drivers experiencing unexpected problems and issues. With the wild racing that has taken place at Kansas Speedway ever since it was repaved, fans should expect the same and possibly even more action on Sunday as the pressure begins to mount on the Chase drivers as Talladega Superspeedway looms in the future. Make sure you tune in on Sunday, you won’t want to miss out on the craziness.

Southern California native who has made the trek across country to North Carolina to chase down my dreams and aspirations in the motorsports industry.