NASCAR at Las Vegas 2016 Qualifying Results: Race Order, Final Times, Reaction

Daniel Kramer@dkramer_Featured ColumnistMarch 4, 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 04:  Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy / Haas Automation Chevrolet, poses for a photo after winning the pole award during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 4, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Kurt Busch set a qualifying record Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to claim the pole for Sunday's Kobalt 400 and will roll off first for the second straight week.

Busch turned in a blazing lap of 196.378 mph to claim his 20th career pole and second at Las Vegas. Jeff Gordon set the previous track record of 194.678 mph last year, per NASCAR.com.

NASCAR shared a GIF of the No. 41 team celebrating in style on pit road:

Here is a look at the rest of the 39-car starting grid for Sunday’s race:

Kobalt 400—Qualifying Times
Start OrderDriverFastest Time (Seconds)
1Kurt Busch27.505
2Joey Logano27.572
3Matt Kenseth27.582
4Brad Keselowski27.598
5Austin Dillon27.604
6Kevin Harvick27.628
7Aric Almirola27.651
8Kasey Kahne27.652
9Denny Hamlin27.681
10Martin Truex Jr.27.696
11Jimmie Johnson27.837
12AJ Allmendinger27.961
13Chase Elliott27.740
14Ryan Blaney27.741
15Paul Menard27.784
16Ricky Stenhouse Jr.27.792
17Kyle Larson27.851
18Danica Patrick27.889
19Brian Vickers27.893
20Dale Earnhardt Jr.27.915
21Ryan Newman27.931
22Casey Mears27.989
23Kyle Busch28.009
24Carl Edwards27.678
25Chris Buescher27.972
26Greg Biffle27.989
27Landon Cassill28.015
28Trevor Bayne28.019
29Jamie McMurray28.075
30Michael McDowell28.122
31David Ragan28.144
32Brian Scott28.251
33Regan Smith28.291
34Matt DiBenedetto28.398
35Clint Bowyer28.566
36Cole Whitt28.659
37Michael Annett28.661
38Jeffrey Earnhardt28.747
39Josh Wise29.062
Source: NASCAR.com

The 2004 Sprint Cup champion is gunning for his first win at his home track. Busch, who grew up in Las Vegas, talked about how each visit brings fond memories, per David Scott of the Charlotte Observer.

"Vegas is different," he said. "Every time I come out here, it reminds me of all the people that helped [brother and fellow NASCAR driver] Kyle and I. It’s fun to come back and reminisce. But ultimately you have to strap on the helmet and focus on the task at hand."

Busch credited crew chief Tony Gibson for the adjustments his team made throughout Friday’s session that kept him atop the speed charts, per Tom Jensen of Fox Sports:

It was insanely fast. It’s amazing all the detail that goes into qualifying with finding that perfect lap three times out there. My second outing we were way tight and I didn’t know where it came from. (Crew chief Tony) Gibson and crew went to town. They just adjusted on it. We gambled and we made that last session, which was great. That was icing on the cake to be able to go out into the third round. 

Last week, Busch wasn’t able to turn his pole into a win at Atlanta, finishing fourth. Last week’s race saw a horde of lengthy green-flag runs, and Busch noted his long-run speed wasn’t up to par, per Scott.

Joey Logano will start on the outside of Busch in second Sunday. Logano was the second-fastest driver on the speed charts in Friday’s practice behind teammate Brad Keselowski, who qualified fourth.

Logano talked about how demanding Las Vegas can be—particularly in qualifyingper Scott.

“I felt like our car was pretty close,” Logano said. “I always talk about guts-to-brain ratio, and this track you’ve got to have guts and put your foot on the throttle.”

Friday’s event wasn’t crash-free, as Carl Edwards brought out the red flag in the second round after slamming the wall, as NASCAR showed:

The two-time Vegas winner will be forced into a backup car and start at the rear of the field.

"It hit hard, bounced up the race track and, man, that was it," Edwards said, per NASCAR.com.

Another victim in Edwards’ scuffle was Brian Vickers, whose lap wasn’t counted because the red flag waved. Vickers, filling in for the injured Tony Stewart, did not advance to the third round and will start 19th. 

Matt Kenseth, one of the most seasoned Vegas veterans, will roll off third. Kenseth tops all drivers with 516 laps led and the highest average finish at 11.4, per Racing-Reference.info.

Kevin Harvicklast year's winner and the favorite to win Sunday, per Odds Sharkqualified sixth. Jimmie Johnson, last week’s winner at Atlanta, qualified 11th. Johnson leads all drivers with four wins at Las Vegas.

Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin will roll off ninth. Hamlin crashed his primary car in Thursday’s testing session, but because he reverted to a backup for qualifying, his starting position will stand. 

For the second straight week, the Sprint Cup Series hits another 1.5-mile speedway, though Sunday’s event will likely present different conditions than Atlanta did last week.

The pavement isn’t as rugged, the banks aren’t as high and the race is 100 miles shorter. With NASCAR’s new lower-downforce rules package, drivers should be in store for another relatively clean race with many lengthy green-flag runs.

If Busch can find the long-run speed he mentioned, he may also steer his way into Victory Lane in what would be one of his most monumental victories yet.