Kyle Busch captures pole at Monster Mile

DOVER — If Friday was any indication, there’s a strong chance a Joe Gibbs Racing affiliated car will be in Victory Lane at Dover International Speedway on Sunday.

Kyle Busch won the pole as four Toyotas will occupy the front two rows for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ AAA 400 Drive for Autism. The race is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.

Martin Truex Jr., who won the last race at the Monster Mile in October, will start second. Daniel Suarez is in the third starting spot while Matt Kenseth is fourth.

Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet will start fifth in the first non-Toyota.

Busch, Suarez and Kenseth are all owned by Joe Gibbs Racing, while Truex’s Furniture Row Racing-owned Toyota has an alliance with the Gibbs team.

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Kyle Busch wins the Pole for the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

This is Busch’s first pole of the season and first career pole at the Monster Mile.

“The pole is important at a track like this,” he said following his qualifying lap. “We’ll be able to get a good pit stall selection and obviously track position is key here.”

Truex’s lap nearly surpassed Busch’s, but a late wiggle coming through the final two turns sliced off a few hundredths of a second.

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Kyle Busch crosses the finish line to cature the Pole during the Monster Cup qualifying at Dover International Speedway on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“The car was good — I just came up a little bit short,” Truex said.

Truex was only 0.011 seconds off of Busch’s lap.

For Suarez, the third-place start is the rookie’s best career qualifying effort.

“The Joe Gibbs Racing team has been working super hard the last few months to get the speed back,” Suarez said. “The last few weeks we’ve had fast race cars. I’m really happy for that. We’ve had good speed since the very beginning of practice here. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going and have a good race this week.”

The two other Toyotas who are owned or affiliated with Joe Gibbs Racing will both start in the top-10 too. Rookie Erik Jones qualified seventh and Denny Hamlin will start 10th.

The biggest surprise of the qualifying session was the struggle of Joey Logano, who didn’t even make it out of the first of the three qualifying stages. He will start 26th on Sunday.

“We’re lacking speed right now and I don’t understand completely why,” Logano said. “There’s a lot of different theories, I guess, but we’ve got some work to do. We’ll figure it out. It’s a strong team and we’ve fought back before, so we’ll fight back this weekend and hopefully get some speed back.”

Jimmie Johnson, the all-time leader in Cup Series victories at Dover with 10, also struggled in qualifying. He will start 14th.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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