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Kenseth wins first pole of year for Hollywood Casino 400

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Matt Kenseth will start from the pole for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Kenseth qualified first for the first time this season with a lap at 192.089 mph for the 18th pole of his career.

“It’s nice to get a pole, I feel like our qualifying hasn’t been nearly as good this year, as consistent as it has been in the years since I’ve been at JGR,” Kenseth told NBCSN. “We barely got it … obviously our Camry’s have been fast, our DeWalt Flexvolt Camry’s being driving good. Jason Ratcliff made all the right adjustments. Round One we were pretty decent, Round Two it was off a little bit off, and Round Three it was just right.”

Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated Toyotas captured the top four starting spots with Kenseth followed by Kyle Busch (192.084), Carl Edwards (191.015) and Martin Truex Jr. (190.786). Alex Bowman (190.315) will start fifth in the No. 88 Chevrolet.

Kenseth’s pole is the 10th of the year for JGR. All four of its drivers have won a pole. Kenseth had four in 2015.

The only three Chase drivers who didn’t reach the third round were Chase Elliott (13th), Kurt Busch (15th) and Jimmie Johnson (21st).

“From round one to round two the car was much tighter,” Johnson told NBCSN. “We attempted to free it up, and I’m not sure if some of those adjustments might have changed the ride height of the car, affected the splitter’s orientation to the ground. A ton tighter than what we had in the opening round.”

This will be Johnson’s fifth start of 20th or worse this season. Johnson, who won last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway to secure a spot in the Round of 8, never has made the final round of group qualifying at Kansas.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Johnson said. “I’m not accustomed to qualifying well all the time. I’m used to racing through traffic.”

The first round briefly was red-flagged after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact with the wall exiting Turn 4. Stenhouse advanced to the second round and qualified 18th.

Click here to see full qualifying results.

NASCAR America: Is there cause for concern with Jimmie Johnson’s performance thus far?

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It’s no secret that Jimmie Johnson is off to a slow start in 2017.

The defending and seven-time NASCAR Cup champion has a starting average of 21.8 and a finishing average of 18.8 in the first five races of this season.

He has just one top-10 finish (ninth at Phoenix), along with 34th at Daytona, 19th at Atlanta, 11th at Las Vegas and 21st Sunday at Fontana.

And let’s not forget he’s 17th in the NASCAR Cup standings heading to one of his strongest tracks, Martinsville Speedway, this Sunday.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we discussed this: After such a slow start to the season, is there a cause for concern over Johnson’s performance?

NASCAR America: Mark Martin is definitely a Kyle Larson fan

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin shared his experience of racing in his home state of Arkansas, as well as the excitement he feels watching  Kyle Larson compete in the Cup series.

NASCAR America: Kyle Larson involved in minor fender bender while leaving Fontana

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Kyle Larson‘s spectacular weekend at Auto Club Speedway — winning both Saturday’s Xfinity Series race and Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Cup event — left him feeling good.

But shortly upon exiting the facility, Larson and several others were involved in a fender-bender right outside the Speedway. Larson was a passenger, not the driver.

No one was injured, Larson tweeted.

But somehow, isn’t that strange fate?

NASCAR America: Kyle Larson’s Fontana win shows continued maturing as a driver

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Kyle Larson finally broke his streak of three straight runner-up finishes with his win in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, the crew discussed his win as well as his maturation as a driver.