Matt Kenseth wins pole for Cup regular-season finale at Richmond


Matt Kenseth won the pole for Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway, giving him a sweep of this season’s poles at the track.

Kenseth, who is looking to lock himself into the playoffs with a win in the regular-season finale, scored the pole with a speed of 122.421 mph.

“I didn’t think I was going to have enough speed, I didn’t think that was a fast enough lap time to get the pole,” Kenseth told NBCSN. “We’ve been running pretty good the last few months. We haven’t been able to break through and get a win like we’d like to have, we got crashed out at Michigan. But other than that we’ve been up there in the mix. We just haven’t been able to get it to line up and get the victory.”

It is Kenseth’s 20th Cup pole. Before this year he had never won a Cup pole at Richmond. Kenseth led 164 laps in the April race before finishing 23rd after a flat tire.

Completing the top five are Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr.

The winners of the last six Richmond races all started in the top five.

The top five drivers starting outside the top 12 are Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Daniel Suarez.

“We just got too loose,” Suarez told NBCSN. “For whatever reason we just lost a lot of grip in the second round. I don’t why. We had the same thing in practice. The first round was very, very good and the second round on tires wasn’t as good. We’re missing something there.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 21st in his last Cup start at Richmond Raceway.

Richard Childress Racing had a poor qualifying performance with all three cars failing to advance out of the first round.

Paul Menard will start 26th followed by Ryan Newman in 27th. Austin Dillon qualified 31st.

“We have a good long-run car,” Dillon told NBCSN. “We kind of travel in a group when we struggle. When we run good, we run good. Like at Darlington last week with a fourth and a seventh. It’s good to know we can turn the ship around by the end of the weekend.”

Click here for the starting lineup.