Matt Kenseth Earns Pole Position for Auto Club 400

Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) won the pole for this Sunday’s Auto Club 400. It is the 2003 series champion’s 12th career pole and his first at this speedway. For JGR, it will be their 74th time leading the field to the green flag. Brad Keselowski will start alongside; the fourth week in succession that he’s qualified 2nd or higher. The first three positions are all held by former champions, with five-time Auto Club Speedway winner Jimmie Johnson starting 3rd.

ROUND 1

Round 1 went on without any incidents, but certainly wasn’t void of on-track action. With just 35 seconds left in the 25 minute session, Carl Edwards booted Roush-Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle out of the top 12. Biffle responded in dramatic fashion by jumping from 25th to 17th as the clock ran out. Jamie McMurray was the unfortunate driver knocked out by Biffle’s final run at the top 24.

ROUND 2

With a handful of minutes remaining in Round 2, JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin sat on the bubble. Both failed to hang on and were displaced by Ford rivals Marcos Ambrose and Carl Edwards. Kyle attempted to fight his way back into the final twelve but nearly ended up finding the wall instead. ROTY contender Michael Annett was a new face in Round 2, and ultimately placed 23rd; the best starting position of his young career.

ROUND 3

Gordon, Kenseth, Larson, Johnson, Bowyer, Edwards, Logano, Harvick, Stewart, Keselowski, Ambrose, & Truex Jr. were the twelve lucky drivers that gained entry into the final round of qualifying. Kevin Harvick led for the majority of the five minute session but with just 90 seconds left, he was dethroned by Matt Kenseth. As the red flag flew and the timer struck zero, Carl Edwards looked to, for the third time today, make a last ditch effort to steal the show once again.

He did indeed steal the show, but for all the wrong reasons. He rocketed through the final corner in the green, faster than Kenseth, but pushed too hard and caught the wall with the right side. He will instead start 9th. Front row ace Brad Keselowski was the final driver to post a time and ended up just four hundredths off the top, officially placing 2nd. Keselowski, Logano, and Johnson are the only three drivers to make it into the pole-decider round of every knock-out qualifying session in 2014.

Complete Starting Lineup

1.) Matt Kenseth #20
2.) Brad Keselowski #2
3.) Jimmie Johnson #48
4.) Kevin Harvick #4
5.) Clint Bowyer #15
6.) Jeff Gordon #24
7.) Joey Logano #22
8.) Marcos Ambrose #9
9.) Carl Edwards #99
10.) Tony Stewart #14
11.) Kyle Larson #42
12.) Martin Truex Jr. #78
13.) Denny Hamlin #11
14.) Kyle Busch #18
15.) Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88
16.) Ryan Newman #31
17.) Kurt Busch #41
18.) A.J. Allmendinger #47
19.) Brian Vickers #55
20.) Austin Dillon #3
21.) Aric Almirola #43
22.) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17
23.) Michael Annett #7
24.) Greg Biffle #16
25.) Jamie McMurray #1
26.) Kasey Kahne #5
27.) Danica Patrick #10
28.) Justin Allgaier #51
29.) David Gilliland #38
30.) Matt Crafton (Paul Menard win run race) #27
31.) Casey Mears #13
32.) Parker Kligerman #30
33.) David Reutimann #35
34.) Cole Whitt #26
35.) Travis Kvapil #32
36.) Reed Sorenson #36
37.) Brian Scott #33
38.) Josh Wise #98
39.) Ryan Truex #83
40.) Alex Bowman #23
41.) David Ragan #34
42.) Joe Nemechek #66
43.) Landon Cassill #40
(No DNQ’s)

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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