NASCAR at Atlanta 2016 Qualifying Results: Race Order, Final Times and Reaction

Daniel Kramer@dkramer_Featured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2016

HAMPTON, GA - FEBRUARY 26:  Kurt Busch drives the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 26, 2016 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

NASCAR had a bit of drama in Friday's qualifying session for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

The Busch Brothers—Kyle and Kurt—were slated to roll off first and second, respectively, Sunday, but Kyle Busch failed the post-race qualifying session, according to Bob Pockrass of ESPN.com. Kurt Busch will now be on the pole, and Kyle Busch will start from the back of the field. 

Wendy Venturini of Fox Sports 1 elaborated on the issue regarding Kyle Busch's car:

Pockrass reported there would be no additional penalties for the No. 18 Toyota. 

Here is a look at the final-qualifying results, which only included 39 cars—the smallest field in two decades at Atlanta, according to Jeff Gluck of USA Today:

NASCAR at Atlanta 2016—Qualifying Results and Times
Start OrderDriverFastest Time (Seconds)
1Kyle Busch*28.925
2Kurt Busch28.938
3Jamie McMurray29.159
4Trevor Bayne29.181
5Ryan Newman29.185
6Ricky Stenhouse Jr.29.200
7Kevin Harvick29.213
8Carl Edwards29.215
9Austin Dillon29.228
10Martin Truex Jr.29.277
11Brian Scott29.397
12Kasey Kahne29.616
13Denny Hamlin29.120
14Matt Kenseth29.139
15Greg Biffle29.151
16Casey Mears29.156
17Dale Earnhardt Jr.29.207
18Brad Keselowski29.311
19Ty Dillon29.312
20Jimmie Johnson29.366
21Kyle Larson29.377
22Paul Menard29.378
23AJ Allmendinger29.390
24Ryan Blaney29.576
25Chase Elliott29.273
26Danica Patrick29.321
27Joey Logano29.327
28Aric Almirola29.401
29Clint Bowyer29.485
30Landon Cassill29.515
31Regan Smith29.585
32Chris Buescher29.628
33Michael McDowell29.822
34David Ragan29.842
35Michael Annett29.868
36Matt DiBenedetto29.887
37Cole Whitt30.124
38Josh Wise30.160
39Jeffrey Earnhardt30.669
NASCAR.com; * indicates failed post-race inspection

Qualifying was run in chilly conditions Friday, as temperatures dropped into the mid-40s after the sun set prior to the final round. The cars will likely be run with slightly different setups to account for the changing track conditions. 

In a post-qualifying interview with Fox Sports 1, Kyle Busch elaborated on the challenges Atlanta presents as one of the slickest tracks, having not been repaved since 1997.

"You have to focus on long runs," Kyle Busch said. "You’ve got to have take-off speed, but you also have to have long-run speed. You can’t have your tires fall off too quickly. This place is tricky."

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Qualifying also reverted back to its normal format of three rounds with the fastest cars advancing until the final slate with just 12 machines left. Last week at Daytona, the Can-Am Duel races held Thursday determined the race's start order. 

Kurt Busch talked about trying to account for the differences in formats in his post-qualifying interview with FS1. 

"We go through Daytona and it’s 10 days of trying to find a little bit of speed here and there, and then boom—today you’ve got to do everything in 80 minutes,” Kurt Busch said. 

Jimmie Johnson won this event a year ago, claiming his fourth victory on the 1.54-mile tri-oval in Hampton, Georgia. Here is a look at Johnson pulling away in the final laps and winning by nearly two seconds, courtesy of Fox Sports:

The green flag for Sunday’s race will wave at 1 p.m. ET and air on Fox.  

Kurt Busch is in great shape to make a run at his fourth Atlanta win. The 2004 Cup champion didn't race in this event last year after serving a suspension. He has an incredibly fast machine that was consistent throughout qualifying and practice and should run up front early and often.

Kyle Busch will have a huge challenge surging to the front of the 39-car field at a venue that produces lengthy green-flag runs and where track position is so vital. The reigning Cup champ may need to take an aggressive pit strategy in order to push his way to the front. 

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