Kyle Busch earns first Cup pole of season for key Phoenix race

Jerry Bonkowski

Qualifying appeared to be a leisurely and easy Saturday drive for Kyle Busch, who won the pole for Sunday’s penultimate race of the NASCAR Cup playoffs at ISM Raceway.

It couldn’t have come at a better time, as it not only was Busch’s first Cup pole of the season, it also brings him one step closer to breaking his 20-race winless streak. His last win of the season was  June 2 at Pocono.

Busch was the only driver to qualify above 140 mph, with an effort of 140.116 mph around the 1-mile oval. He goes for the season sweep at ISM Raceway on Sunday, having also won the spring race there.

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“Hopefully today bodes well for tomorrow,” Busch told NBCSN. “Overall, proud to start up front. This is a very important race and very important for track position and such. Hopefully it’s good for tomorrow.”

Busch led a Joe Gibbs Racing onslaught that saw all four of its drivers qualify in the top nine.

Busch and Joey Logano are the two drivers above the playoff cutline heading into Sunday’s race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC). Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have already qualified for next week’s championship race in Miami by virtue of wins.

Logano will start alongside Busch on the front row after a qualifying lap of 139.752 mph.

“Hopefully we can keep him behind us and not allow him to pass us and we can go out there, block their air and keep the track position we need to keep,” Busch said of Logano.

All of the remaining playoff drivers wound up qualifying in the top 10. I

Click here for full qualifying results.

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