By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
It’s been a banner day for Kurt Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing at Texas Motor Speedway.
Earlier on Friday afternoon, the Las Vegas native put down the fastest lap in practice, followed by two of his SHR teammates, and qualifying for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 was more of the same as Busch was at the top of the board at the end of the first round of qualifying, with two of his teammates in tow once more.
While there were two other rounds scheduled, Mother Nature had other ideas as lightning in the area forced a delay that led to an outright cancellation and the starting lineup being set by the results from the first round.
“It was a unique situation with just having the one round,” said Busch. “The thought that weather was in the area hadn’t crossed our minds but yet you have to play all three rounds as smart as you can. We went a little bit aggressive on that first round and it paid off. I think Round 2 would have picked up even more speed and Round 3 would have been where we had to make a big gamble to see if we could still maintain that pace.
“I am glad we had that speed right off the truck thanks to Billy Scott and Doug Yates and the engine department. Having that technical alliance with Mobil 1, those guys have helped us with the qualifying side of it. It is neat to have our Fords at Stewart-Haas hauling the mail like this. When you attack the track and stand on the gas hard it is a great feeling to know it is going to stick. Stewart-Haas Racing has been on fire recently.”
So, Kurt Busch will be credited with his first pole of the season as a result of his lap of 27.360 seconds, 197.368 mph, and Kevin Harvick will be joining him on the front row. Clint Bowyer will start third, followed by Ryan Blaney in fourth, and Denny Hamlin in fifth.
The remainder of the top-10 for Sunday’s starting grid will be filled out by Martin Truex, Jr., Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Larson.
“We had a good lap and just got beat by a little bit,” Harvick said. “I think we didn’t really realize that was going to be the last one but we thought maybe there was a chance. We kept it in the family and that is a good thing for Stewart-Haas Racing and hopefully we can continue the trend of running well for the rest of the weekend.”
The Cup Series drivers will have two practice sessions on Saturday at 11:00 am and 1:30 pm ET to finish dialing in their cars before taking the green flag for the 334-lap event on Sunday afternoon.