Kyle Busch wins pole for Cup playoff opener at Chicagoland

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Kyle Busch won the pole for the Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, which is the opening race of the playoffs.

It is the seventh pole of the season for Busch, who claimed the spot with a speed of 187.963 mph.

The starting top five for the race is Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.

“It’s because I’m in a Toyota, that’s why, right?” Busch joked with NBCSN, referring to the Twitter exchange between him and Keselowski earlier in the day. “Just great adjustments right there. We were kind of a little bit free those first couple of runs and just trying to get the balance right and obviously the last round the balance was way better. Really able to attack and get the most out of it and that’s all she had.”

Also starting in the top 10 will be Kyle Larson (sixth), Chase Elliott (eighth), Austin Dillon (ninth) and Matt Kenseth (10th).

Ryan Blaney did not make a lap in the final round after he ran out of gas and will start 12th.

Five other playoff drivers made it to the second round.

Jimmie Johnson (14th), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (15th), Ryan Newman (16th), Kurt Busch (17th)  and Jamie McMurray (19th).

“A step in the right direction,” Johnson told NBCSN. “Starting in the seventh row is a lot better than where we’ve started here recently. If we can move forward like we typically do in the race, get in the top 10, top five, it can completely change the outcome of the race and get momentum going the right way for us. We’re digging deep. I think we’ve improved some. … It’s time for this 48 to get hot.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 20th in his last Chicagoland start.

Erik Jones did not make a lap in the second round after he spun exiting Turn 4 with about six minutes left in the round.

Kasey Kahne was the only playoff driver who failed to advance out of the first round. He will start 25th in the postseason opener.

“We were missing rear grip, we didn’t have any,” Kahne told NBCSN. “We were terrible in practice. We were terrible in qualifying. Tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll do everything we can to be much better. But today was awful.”

Ray Black Jr. qualified 39th for his Cup Series debut. He is driving the No. 51 for Rick Ware.

Click here for qualifying results.