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 Order||Driver||Fastest Time (Seconds)|
|6||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||29.200|
|10||Martin Truex Jr.||29.277|
|17||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||29.207|
|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."
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.