By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Congestion and patience were the stories of Busch Pole qualifying for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. For the third time in history, the Busch brothers, swept the front row. Kyle Busch won the pole each time. Kyle beat his older brother Kurt Busch by 0.002 seconds to score his 29thcareer Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole position.
“It was you know tough going years ago obviously for a few times,” Kyle Busch said about racing with Kurt, “but lately I guess we’ve been racing each other a little bit better. Like last week, you know, we ran each other hard, we ran each other clean and that was for a stage point. In Sonoma last year, I got out front first and was just kind of hanging on and hoping that I could continue to hold him off, where he was probably a better car and had faster car overall that weekend, but we did our job and so it was the first time we’ve ever finished 1-2 and it came at a road course. Kind of ironic with that, but overall just keep trying to make sure that we have those good battles and make sure that they’re clean battles and not ugly ones.”
“Yeah, and it’s better now with age,” Kurt said about battling Kyle. “Like wine it tastes better a little bit later on and you have to let it settle. I can now walk up to him and say, ‘Yeah, I let you have it,’ and he’ll giggle. He’ll actually laugh, and yet I knew that I didn’t quite hit a perfect lap and if I’m gonna get beat by somebody when I don’t hit a perfect lap, I’d rather it be my little brother. Yet at the same time it stings because I’d rather have the 41 first and the 18 second.”
Brad Keselowski qualified third with fellow Ford Performance drivers Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Ryan Blaney rounding out the top-five. Kyle Larson was the best in the Chevrolet camp in qualifying, positioning himself in the sixth position.
Michael McDowell, who got caught in traffic in the second round advanced and qualified ninth. It was the first time that McDowell and Front Row Motorsports have qualified in the top-10 at a non-Restrictor Plate track.
The patience and congestion cost several opportunities to move from one around to another. Martin Truex, Jr. and Denny Hamlin both failed to advance from the first round to the second round. Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, and Chase Elliott failed to move from the second round to the third round, running out of time. Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson, Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Aric Almirola got stuck in traffic, hampering their efforts to earn a better starting spot.
Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Fusion did not make a lap in Busch Pole qualifying. His Stewart-Haas Racing team elected not to attempt a lap after crashing and being forced to a back-up car in the first and only practice session of the day.