KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kasey Kahne picked up the pole for Sunday’s Banquet 400 at the Kansas Speedway, making it his fifth pole of the season (tying Kurt Busch for most poles in 2006). Kahne, looking for his sixth victory of the season, will line up beside his Evernham Motorsports teammate, Scott Riggs. This is the second 1-2 sweep of the front row for Evernham.
“I feel like I got just about everything out of it,” said Kahne. “I feel like I could have used more race track off turn four, but it was turning so good you didn’t really have to.
“Our Dodge Charger felt great in practice,” continued Kahne, “and Kenny (Francis, team director) made a small change before qualifying to help the car from where we were in practice. I knew Scott was going to be tough at the end. I think the track was equal for everybody today.”
After missing the first race of the season, Riggs has been a man on a mission. He has had four top-10 starts this season, including a second place start at Dover last week (where he finished 34th after wrecking). He has had six top-10 finishes this season, including a fourth at California four races ago.
“I think the things we learned in qualifying will help our car in race trim,” said Riggs. “I think we were a top-10 car in race trim before. I don’t think our car was good enough to win, but we’ve got a good headstart for tomorrow. I think we’ll be able to fine tune our car and be a contender this weekend.”
Riggs believes that the chemistry between the team is getting stronger every race and that he’s able to have fun again.
“We’re laughing and joking and that’s what it’s all about,” said Riggs. “the last two weeks took some wind out of our sails points wise, but nothing has taken the wind out of our sails for wanting to be in victory lane. It’s fun right now for all of us.”
Jimmie Johnson will start behind them in third, with Hendrick teammate Brian Vickers right beside him. JJ Yeley starts fifth, followed by Emporia, Kan. native Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, and last week’s winner, Jeff Burton, who will start 10th.
“It was a really good for us,” said Bowyer. “It was a little bit too free but the draw was really good and we can race with ’em from there.”
After a hard wreck in qualifying, Carl Long was checked over in the infield care center and released. Unfortunately for Long, who was a “go or go home” car, this was his second wreck of the day and he will not be competing in Sunday’s race. Eight “go or go home drivers” will be in Sunday’s event, including Busch Series rookie Todd Kluever, Kyle Petty, Terry Labonte, Chad Chaffin, Michael Waltrip, Travis Kvapil, Bill Elliott and Kenny Wallace. The other drivers going home along with Long are Scott Wimmer, Kevin Lepage and Chad Blount.
The remaining lineup for Sunday is as follows: 11. Jeff Gordon; 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.; 13. Kyle Busch; 14. Kevin Harvick; 15. Ryan Newman; 16. Bobby Labonte; 17. Dave Blaney; 18. Joe Nemechek; 19. Mark Martin; 20. David Gilliland; 21. Tony Stewart; 22. Kluever; 23. Martin Truex Jr.; 24. Petty; 25. Denny Hamlin; 26. Reed Sorenson; 27. Carl Edwards; 28. Sterling Marlin; 29. Greg Biffle; 30. Terry Labonte; 31. Jeff Green; 32. Dale Jarrett; 33. Casey Mears; 34. Chaffin; 35. Waltrip; 36. Ken Schrader; 37. Kvapil; 38. Tony Raines; 39. Elliott; 40. Kenny Wallace; 41. David Stremme; 42. Jamie McMurray; 43. Robby Gordon.