Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Thursday at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway by setting the sixth-fastest lap in qualifying for the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night. Busch turned a lap of 28.036 seconds at 192.610 mph on the 1.5-mile oval in the final round of knockout qualifying.
“That was a unique three rounds,” said Busch, who won the 2010 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. “We had some air pressure changes, some wedge changes – more than normal – and team communication was at an all-time high. I figured exactly what (Tony) Gibson (crew chief) was doing on the air pressure and I drove the car thinking that we had a shot at the pole, but I didn’t want to end up 12th, so I gave it a nice smooth lap. Here we are we are P6. I didn’t think a pole was obtainable and that should give us a good pit box selection.”
Qualifying consisted of three rounds. The first was 20 minutes, with every driver on the track vying to set the fastest lap. The 24 fastest drivers from the first round advanced to the second, 10-minute round. The fastest 12 drivers from that session advanced to the final, five-minute round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by speeds in the final round. Positions 13-24 were set by speeds in the second round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance past the first round.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. All are listed in the order they’ll start Saturday night’s race.
The Bank of America 500 gets underway at 7 p.m. EDT Saturday with live coverage provided by NBC.