FONTANA, CA- Before last season, Matt Kenseth wasn’t a very strong qualifier. He never was a threat for many poles during his tenure with Roush/Fenway Racing. When he joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013, his qualifying struggles miraculously ended.
That stayed true for 2014 despite a slow start on qualifying weekends in the first four races.
Today though, Kenseth earned his 12th career Coors Light Pole Award as he will start on the pole for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval.
Kenseth, was strong from the get go and used his time wisely to lay down a lap of 187.315 mph in his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota to earn the top spot in Sunday’s race at Fontana.
Points leader Brad Keselowski earned his fourth straight front row start with a speed of 187.105 mph in the No. 2 Wurth Ford. He’s been very strong in qualifying trim this year as he earned the pole at Phoenix then started second at Las Vegas and Bristol the last two weeks.
The duo has fared pretty well at Fontana in their careers so they could be tough to beat Sunday.
The best driver in the history of NASCAR at Fontana will start third as six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson turned a lap of 186.935 mph. Johnson, was quickest in today’s practice session as well as he will be a factor in Sunday’s race too.
Joining Johnson in Row 2 is another Fontana great Kevin Harvick. “Happy” had the fastest speed until the closing minutes when the three beat him with under 90-seconds left.
Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five in today’s qualifying session.
The series will have two more practices on Saturday before to prepare their cars one last day for the big race on Sunday.
Eric Smith is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report covering Racing. He’s covered both IndyCar and NASCAR action since 2009 and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by both the IndyCar Series and all three divisions of NASCAR racing.
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