Monday, May 21, 2018
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Kurt Busch sets record to win Las Vegas pole

LAS VEGAS - Kurt Busch visited Victory Lane last year at his home track.

He was there to congratulate his little brother, Kyle, who became the first Busch brother to win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He wants his own party this year.

Kurt Busch shattered his brother's track record yesterday with a pole-winning role at Las Vegas, the track he and Kyle Busch consider to be among the most important on the series. The Las Vegas natives watched construction of the track, hopeful to one day get a chance to race there - and maybe even win.

"I'm pretty stoked," Kurt Busch said. "It's something you can't count your chickens before they've hatched, but this would be a special win. It's hard to play what-if."

Busch grew emotional in his pole-winners press conference, having to stop to compose himself and wipe away tears when he recognized one of his father's former racing rivals, who was at the track in a media role.

"I just love Vegas," he said. "It's the people that make it special to me. It's just fun seeing everybody."

Busch turned a lap of 188.719 mph to claim the top starting spot for tomorrow's NASCAR Sprint Cup Shelby American race. Jeff Gordon was second with a lap at 188.646. Ryan Newman qualified third and was followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch.

Kyle Busch held the previous track record of 185.995 mph. In all, 18 drivers bettered that speed.

Busch, who is winless in nine previous starts at Las Vegas, credited new crew chief Steve Addington for his strong qualifying run. Addington was Kyle Busch's crew chief for Kyle's win here last year. He was fired in October from Joe Gibbs Racing, and Kurt Busch hired him in December.

"Steve Addington definitely has his game on for this place," Kurt Busch said.

Only two drivers failed to make the 43-car field, Terry Cook and Casey Mears, who has missed all three of this season's races.

PATRICK UPDATE: Danica Patrick has one more NASCAR race before a four-month hiatus to return to the IndyCar Series, and she's admittedly going to miss being away from her new team.

"I was telling the boys today I was kind of sad, this is the last weekend for awhile," she said yesterday. "I really enjoy all of them and I like driving the cars."

Patrick is running a 13-race Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports, and has enjoyed the crash course in stock cars despite her disappointing results.

Patrick made her Nationwide debut at Daytona, where she was collected in a mid-race accident and finished 35th. She struggled last week at California to a 31st-place finish.

Next up is today's race at Las Vegas, then she's back to IndyCar and, after a four-month break, back to NASCAR with the Nationwide race at New Hampshire in June.

She was 23rd fastest in the first practice session, and 25th in the final session.

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