Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth, who won the pole for tonight’s race, will try to become the first driver to win two NASCAR races in the same season at Daytona since 1982.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth will start from the pole tonight at Daytona International Speedway, where he’ll try to pull off a season sweep.
No driver since Bobby Allison in 1982 has won both NASCAR races at Daytona in the same season, but Kenseth thinks he has a good chance. The restrictor-plate package at Roush Fenway Racing is powerful, and its engines have been strong all season: Roush driver Carl Edwards opened the season by winning the pole for the Daytona 500.
“That’d be pretty cool,” Kenseth said about tying Allison. “I never thought, especially early in my career the way speedway went and I don’t feel like I’m particularly good at it and never thought I’d be able to win. So it’s pretty neat. Certainly I think for our team, our confidence is high.”
Kenseth turned a lap at 192.386 mph Friday in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford to earn the top starting spot. It’s the first pole of the season for the series points leader, and his first pole in 26 races at Daytona.
Tony Stewart was second, turning a lap at 192.361 in a Chevrolet, but his time was thrown out by NASCAR after the session. NASCAR said an open cooling hose was found pointed inside the cockpit — the same violation discovered earlier Friday after Austin Dillon’s pole-winning run in the Nationwide Series.
Dillon had to forfeit his pole and will start at the back of the field in Friday night’s race. Stewart, the three-time series champion, will start in the back of tonight’s Sprint Cup race.
Stewart’s teammate, Ryan Newman, qualified third at 192.353.
“I think the biggest advantage of us qualifying well is we’ve got a better chance of missing whatever happens,” Newman said. “If there’s a crash early in the race, there’s a better chance of it being behind us.”
Kasey Kahne qualified fourth and was followed by Greg Biffle, Kenseth’s teammate.
Jeff Gordon was sixth, followed by Bill Elliott in a Turner Motorsports entry. Casey Mears was eighth, AJ Allmendinger was the highest qualifying Dodge at ninth and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski rounded out the top 10.
Keselowski, the winner at Talladega this year, likes his chances tonight.
“Our car is one of the fastest race cars that I’ve ever driven,” Keselowski said. “It’s fast. We just need to keep all the fenders on it and go get ‘em at the end.”
Denny Hamlin, who sat out of all activity Thursday because of a bad back, qualified his Joe Gibbs Racing car. He’ll start 24th and is not planning to have a driver on stand-by.