On Friday, Matt Kenseth claimed the pole starting spot for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., with a lap time of 38.438 seconds (187.315 mph) in the third round of qualifying. It was his 12th-career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and first at Auto Club Speedway.
“It was good (the car), obviously,” Kenseth said. “We unloaded and had some really good speed. We worked on race trim a little bit. It wasn’t driving quite like we hoped, but we did have some really good speed, and that translated into qualifying trim.”
Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski took second in qualifying to claim his fourth-consecutive front-row starting spot, starting on the front row for all races, so far, this season, except for the season-opening Daytona 500. He has qualified on the front row for every race for which the new knockout qualifying format has been used.
“I have had a lot of fun with this new format,” Keselowski said. “I don’t feel like a very good qualifier. It took me all three shots to even get in the top-10. Fortunately, the last one was our best with getting us second, and I am really proud of my team for that effort and adjusting on the caar to get it where we wanted to be.”
Jimmie Johnson was third-fastest in the third and final round of qualifying and Kevin Harvick fourth to claim second-row starting spots for Sunday. Harvick posted the fastest lap, overall, across the three-round session, with a 38.303-second lap in round one.
Jeff Gordon, who wound up sixth in the final round and, therefore, will start sixth on race day, turned in the fastest lap in round two. Clint Bowyer will start fifth.
Qualifying seventh through 10th in round three were Joey Logano, Marcos Ambrose, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart. The other two drivers advancing to the final round to qualify for top-10 starting spots were Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr.
Forty-three drivers, the exact number needed for a full race field, made qualifying attempts, so all who made laps during qualifying on Friday received spots on Sunday’s starting grid.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR