Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson will lead the field to the green flag in Sunday’s Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after NASCAR’s first qualifying session since its return.
The Coca Cola 600 is the third Cup Series race to be run this week, after two races were run at Darlington last Sunday and Wednesday – marking motorsports return for the first time since the world was forced into lockdown by coronavirus.
William Byron’s 180.264mph lap was enough to secure him the provisional pole early in the session.
But it would not hold, as team-mate Jimmie Johnson, a four-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600, took over the top spot with 181.214mph lap.
With no practice, the track was treacherous for some. J.J. Yeley cut down a left rear tyre on his run after a significant tyre rub during his lap.
Matt DiBenedetto slammed the wall on the exit of Turn 4 during his lap, forcing the Wood Brothers to roll out the backup car.
Soon after, Aric Almirola spun sideways, making slight contact with the outside wall as his car slid into the infield.
Several drivers took a shot at Johnson’s lap, but none could seem to top the #48 machine.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch was finally able to unseat Johnson in the closing moments of the session, taking pole position by just 0.009s (181.269mph).
For Busch, this is his 28th career pole and his first in NACAR’s longest race.
“I’m just so proud of Matt McCall (crew chief) and all our guys and the way we have to communicate right now and get through everything, such as those last-minute details and those fine adjustments,” Busch said.
“I mean, wow. What a Chevrolet and being up front, this is pretty sweet.
“It’s an awesome pole. I was really more geared up for downforce and being ready for 600 miles.
“This means Matt McCall has something up his sleeve and we should be good tonight!’
This will be Johnson’s seventh front row start at Charlotte Motor Speedway and his fourth in the 600.
Chase Elliott will start third, Matt Kenseth fourth, Tyler Reddick fifth, Austin Dillon sixth, Joey Logano seventh, Martin Truex Jr. eighth, Brad Keselowski ninth, and William Byron tenth.
Complete Coca Cola 600 Qualifying Results
|1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||29.790s||–||1|
|2||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||29.799s||0.009s||1|
|3||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||29.834s||0.044s||1|
|4||Matt Kenseth||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||29.847s||0.057s||1|
|5||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||29.850s||0.060s||1|
|6||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||29.877s||0.087s||1|
|7||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||29.925s||0.135s||1|
|8||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||29.946s||0.156s||1|
|9||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||29.953s||0.163s||1|
|10||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||29.956s||0.166s||1|
|11||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||30.019s||0.229s||1|
|12||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||30.020s||0.230s||1|
|13||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||30.027s||0.237s||1|
|14||Erik Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||30.033s||0.243s||1|
|15||Christopher Bell||Leavine Family Racing||Toyota||30.042s||0.252s||1|
|16||Ty Dillon||Germain Racing||Chevrolet||30.059s||0.269s||1|
|17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||30.071s||0.281s||1|
|18||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||30.072s||0.282s||1|
|19||Chris Buescher||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||30.081s||0.291s||1|
|20||Clint Bowyer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||30.095s||0.305s||1|
|21||Ross Chastain||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||30.150s||0.360s||1|
|22||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||30.156s||0.366s||1|
|23||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevrolet||30.172s||0.382s||1|
|24||Corey LaJoie||Go FAS Racing||Ford||30.183s||0.393s||1|
|25||John Hunter Nemechek||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||30.254s||0.464s||1|
|26||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||30.313s||0.523s||1|
|27||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||30.324s||0.534s||1|
|28||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||30.334s||0.544s||1|
|29||Ryan Preece||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||30.352s||0.562s||1|
|30||Quin Houff||StarCom Racing||Chevrolet||30.848s||1.058s||1|
|31||Gray Gaulding||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||31.160s||1.370s||1|
|32||Timmy Hill||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||31.234s||1.444s||1|
|33||Matt DiBenedetto||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||31.452s||1.662s||1|
|34||J.J. Yeley||Tommy Baldwin Racing||Chevrolet||31.480s||1.690s||1|
|35||Brennan Poole||Premium Motorsports||Chevrolet||31.502s||1.712s||1|
|36||B.J. McLeod||BJ McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet||31.590s||1.800s||1|
|37||Daniel Suarez||Gaunt Brothers Racing||Toyota||31.858s||2.068s||1|
|38||Garrett Smithley||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||31.971s||2.181s||1|
|39||Joey Gase||Petty Ware Racing||Ford||33.538s||3.748s||1|
|40||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||–||–||0|