Busch’s season gets a boost with Dover pole

Kyle Busch is back on the NASCAR Cup Series pole at Dover Motor Speedway after topping the final round of qualifying Saturday afternoon.

Busch earned the top spot at 162.191mph (22.196s). It’s the first pole for Busch and the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing team this season and their first since St. Louis last season. Busch went on to win that race.

However, Busch did lead the field to the green flag Dover last season. But qualifying had been washed out, and Busch was on the pole via the NASCAR rule book.

“We started out really good; the first month was strong,” Busch said of his season to date. “We had some really good races there and just had other issues. But you’re right, the last month or so has definitely been a struggle with speed. Talladega (Superspeedway) is a crapshoot anyways. But it’s pretty funny, we were standing here talking about sitting on the pole last year here, too, with the rain out and we started first, and then my overexcitement of coming down pit road the first time, speeding on pit road, sent us to the back and didn’t quite have the race we wanted. So, I don’t want to make that same mistake this year.”

Busch is 17th in points entering Dover Motor Speedway with three top-10 finishes. He is a three-time winner at Dover.

“The FICO Camaro guys here did a great job,” Busch said. “RCR, ECR, thank you. Lucas Oil and everybody for all the hard work. We’re wanting to tread the right way and putting in the effort, putting in the hours, all the extra work, and trying to figure out exactly what’s going on and why.

“This is our first test of it. We felt like Dover and Kansas would be a really good test of some stuff and, hey, what do you know, it works. Let’s go.”

Ryan Blaney joins Busch on the front row. Blaney, who was fastest in practice, qualified second at 161.951mph.

William Byron qualified third at 161.486mph, and Tyler Reddick qualified fourth at 161.23mph. Noah Gragson qualified fifth at 160.714mph. It is a career-best qualifying effort for Gragson.

Denny Hamlin qualified sixth at 160.371mph, Chase Briscoe qualified seventh at 159.688mph, and Michael McDowell qualified eighth at 159.088mph. Alex Bowman qualified ninth at 159.039mph, and AJ Allmendinger completed the top 10 at 158.186mph.

Martin Truex Jr., the defending winner at Dover, qualified 15th. Truex’s lap was 161.515mph.

Corey Heim qualified 32nd for his Cup Series debut. Heim’s lap in the Legacy Motor Club No. 43 Toyota was 159.327mph.

Christopher Bell qualified 33rd after spinning in Turn 4 after the car bottomed out. During the spin, Bell tagged the wall with the rear, but his Joe Gibbs Racing team will replace the diffuser and focus on racing their primary car.

Kaz Grala and Zane Smith did not make a qualifying attempt. Both drivers crashed during practice, and their teams are working on preparing for Sunday’s race.


Story originally appeared on Racer