The Penske Racing speedster claimed his third consecutive pole for today’s Cup race at Michigan International Speedway with a blazing run in his No..22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge.
Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, ripped off a lap at 188.699 m.p.h. It gave Penske its fourth Cup pole in a row this season, with Busch’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, starting first at Charlotte in May. Busch has 15 career poles in 379 Cup races.
“Incredible — a lot of hard work by everyone on the No..22 team,” said Busch after the run. “Our Dodge is fast. It feels great to find good results now. I think we just got back to basics, and the results are showing on the track.”
David Reutimann in the No..00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota qualified second at 188.684, and Matt Kenseth was third in the No..17 Crown Royal Ford at 188.620. Cup points leader Carl Edwards managed only 23rd best at 186.601.
Crew chief Steve Addington made some quick changes to Busch’s car before he qualified after Keselowski missed the setup of the car, which resulted in his No..2 Miller Lite Dodge being too tight. Fighting an ill-handling car, Keselowski managed just 41st.
“It’s nice we have confidence in each other right now to know exactly how much air to put in the tires,” said Busch, whose pole Saturday was his second at MIS in 21 Cup starts. “We were sitting there on pit road the whole time wondering, ‘Do we add air? Do we take out air?’ We watched Brad’s run, and we were in a panic because we really didn’t know where Brad set his car up exactly. It was cool to call the team engineer on the radio back at the truck; he analyzed Brad’s setup versus ours … just a quick check of basically one thing that we gauged, and we saw that he was quite a percentage tighter than us on that check.
“If he was that tight and we were set up that loose, we didn’t need to go any looser with our setup. It was nice to have that correction of watching your teammate go out just a fewcars ahead and still make an adjustment in time.”
Keselowski was understandably not pleased with his performance.
“Not the lap we were looking for,” he said. “We’re not where we want to be with the handling of our Dodge. But if you have a good car, you’ll find your way up (to) the front in the race.”
Busch said he was in favor of awarding points for winning a pole.
“It would be nice to see one point for a pole,” said Busch, who is sixth in Cup points. “But that’s all you could award with this new (points) system.”
Reutimann, who drives for Michael Waltrip Racing, was a little upset he didn’t win the pole.
“It wiggled in the middle down there, and that’s where we lost our time, I think,” said Reutimann of his car in the turns. “I just let it wiggle, and it cost us just enough.”
Roush Fenway Racing’s Kenseth was happy enough with his day.
“I thought it was a great lap,” said Kenseth, a two-time Cup winner at MIS. “We aren’t really known for qualifying, and to qualify third is really good for us. When you look at the times and are only a couple hundredths off, you maybe wish you could do it again. But I felt we got everything we could out of the car.”