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Matt Kenseth wins pole for All-Star Race; Roush Fenway sweeps front row

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CONCORD, North Carolina — One week after coming off the bench, Matt Kenseth won the pole for Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Driving the No. 6 Ford, Kenseth posted the best average speed in the session which saw drivers make three laps around the track and a pit stop.

Kenseth claimed his third All-Star pole with an average speed of 126.915 mph. He also had the best pit stop time at 16.1 seconds.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified second (126.427 mph), giving Roush Fenway Racing a sweep of the front row. It’s the third time a team has swept the front row in the All-Star Race.

“It’s neat to sit on the pole,” Kenseth told Fox Sports 1. “Ricky was a huge help obviously. Having both cars on the front row is really a tribute to these guys, the pit stops and obviously the engines … to get this done. This is more about the car and the team then it really was about me.”

Kenseth’s pole comes while he’s driving a paint scheme honoring Mark Martin‘s 1998 win in the All-Star Race. He last won the All-Star pole in 2007.

Qualifying came after teams got minimal practice time due to rain. That prevented teams from getting a grasp of the rules package this weekend that includes restrictor plates.

“It’s always good to start up front, no matter what the racing is like and no matter where you’re at,” Kenseth said.

The top five is completed by Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.

Denny Hamlin qualified 14th after overshooting his pit box and then being dealt an outside tire penalty.

Kasey Kahne will start last. During his qualifying run he overshot his pit box and then had two unsecured lug nuts, which is a 10-second penalty.

The full field will be determined by the Monster Energy Open tomorrow night. Three drivers will advance via stage wins and a fourth will make it through a fan vote.

Click here for qualifying results.

Cup teams no longer required to start races on qualifying tires

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NASCAR issued a change to its rulebook Wednesday no longer requiring Cup Series teams to start races on the same set of tires they qualified on. The change will begin with the Coca-Cola 600 on May 27 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Previously, teams had to start races from the rear of the field if they did not start on their qualifying tires.

“This helps us ensure a level playing field, and will end speculation that teams miss qualifying purposely to start the race with a tire advantage,” Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, said in a statement provided to NBC Sports.

The most recent example of a car starting from the rear for changing tires was Kyle Larson last weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Larson spun in qualifying and flat-spotted his tires, requiring him to start last. Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet finised fifth in the first stage.

In the Feb. 25 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. started 35th on new tires after failing prequalifying inspection. He was fifth at the end of Stage 1.

“That’s a really good penalty when you come to a place like this, huh?” Larson’s spotter observed during the first stage on an abrasive track known for heavy tire wear.

NASCAR also changed the number of tires that are supplied to teams in a race weekend. Beginning with the Coke 600, teams will have four sets of tires for practice and qualifying, except for superspeedway races, where they will have three sets.

For truncated race weekends, teams will be able to carry over their qualifying set to the race. If they do not make laps on their qualifying tires, they must carry over a scuffed set from practice.

In another rules bulletin Wednesday, NASCAR also mandated that teams may only use traditional battery-powered equipment to repair a vehicle on the service side of the pit wall. Traditional battery-powered equipment includes (but is not limited to) reciprocating saws, rivet guns, screw guns, and drills. Any other equipment may be used only at the discretion of a series’ managing director.

Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and four others don’t make qualifying runs at Kansas

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Six Cup teams failed to get their cars through qualifying inspection Friday at Kansas Speedway.

As a result, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, Kasey Kahne, Timmy Hill and Michael McDowell did not make qualifying attempts. They will start from the rear of Saturday’s race.

It’s a rough start to Kenseth’s return to Cup racing with Roush Fenway Racing. He makes his first start of the year tomorrow night.

Bowyer’s problems come after a penalty from last week at Dover resulted in a two-race suspension for his car chief.

“We’re stuck back there in jail,” Bowyer told Fox Sports 1. “Pretty bad taste in my mouth right now. It’s hard not to go off because it’s frustrating. You’re sitting there watching the guys. The body was off, they made some adjustments and went back through and then the chassis is off.”

Kevin Harvick wins Cup pole at Kansas Speedway

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Kevin Harvick will start first in Saturday’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway after earning his second pole of the year.

He won the pole with a speed of 188.811 mph. It’s a career-best fourth pole for Harvick at the 1.5-mile track.

Harvick, who won last week at Dover, will be joined on the front row by Ryan Blaney (187.826 mph).

The top five is completed by Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola and Brad Keselowski.

Almirola’s starting spot is his best of the year.

Jimmie Johnson will start 23rd and Jamie McMurray will start 24th after neither made a lap in Round 2. Fox Sports 1 reported Johnson wasn’t comfortable with his car in the first round and didn’t want to risk making any more laps.

McMurray’s team couldn’t get his car to start for the second round.

That was after Johnson and McMurray’s teams scrambled to get their cars on the track after having to go through inspection multiple times.

“We intended on running again, but for some reason the engine wouldn’t start,” McMurray said. “The starter would only spin it over for like one revolution and then the starter would disengage.  We really tried hard to get it to start and just couldn’t ever get it to fire again. We will start wherever we are at there and yeah, nothing we could do about it.”

Kyle Larson spun in Turn 4 in Round 2. If the team changes tires on the No. 42 Chevrolet, that would force Larson to start from the rear. It would also be the second consecutive race Larson has had to start from the rear.

Six drivers did not make a qualifying attempt after their cars failed to get through inspection in time. That includes Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Matt DiBenedetto, Kasey Kahne, Timmy Hill and Michael McDowell. 

They will all start from the rear of Saturday’s race.

“We’re stuck back there in jail,” Bowyer told FS1. “Pretty bad taste in my mouth right now. It’s hard not to go off because it’s frustrating. You’re sitting there watching the guys. The body was off, they made some adjustments and went back through and then the chassis is off.”

Click here for qualifying results.

Noah Gragson wins Truck Series pole at Kansas Speedway

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Noah Gragson qualified first for tonight’s Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway, giving him his fifth career pole and his second consecutive pole this season.

Gragson grabbed the top spot with a speed of 176.678 mph.

Through six races, he has started inside the top five in all but one.

He was third fastest in Round 1.

“Just knew I needed to get up through the gears just a little bit better,” Gragson told Fox Sports 1. “It felt like a good run there in the second qualifying round and it really showed.”

Gragson is joined on the front row by Cody Coughlin (176.482 mph).

The top five is completed by Matt Crafton (176.459), Grant Enfinger (176.361) and Johnny Sauter (176.154).

Kyle Busch starts sixth.

Darrell Wallace Jr. will start 15th in his first Truck Series start of the season.

Myatt Snider will start last after spinning in Turn 4 during his run in Round 1.

Click here for qualifying results.