Busch Burns Phoenix for First Pole of 2006

The pole victory was Kyle Busch's first of the season and second of his Nextel Cup career.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - Kyle Busch captured the pole for Saturday night's Subway Fresh 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway. The No.5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet circled the one-mile oval in 26.917 seconds (133.744 m.p.h.).

The pole victory was Busch's first of the season and second of his Nextel Cup career.

"That was an awfully good run for us," said Busch. "I was hoping for a '30' and we got a '91'."

Starting on the front row with Busch will be Greg Biffle who posted a time of 26.990 seconds.

Defending Nextel Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (27.007) and Matt Kenseth (27.026) will begin in row two.

"We left a little in (turn) three and four," said Stewart.

Qualifying at PIR does not seem that big a factor in winning the race. In 19 Nextel Cup events no driver has won from the pole and just seven events (36.8%) were won by top-10 starters.

While Jimmie Johnson (starting 10th) maintained the series lead after the race at Texas, four drivers (Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin and Stewart) are within 100 points through the first seven events.

In two of the last three races, Johnson has finished outside the top-10 to allow the competition to close the gap.

Kenseth has used four top-three finishes in the last six events and is just 15 points behind the No.48 Hendrick Motorsports driver.

Kahne joined Johnson as the only multiple winners in the series this season after his second victory in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 on April 9th.

Martin has been the quiet man, no victories, but finishing all seven races in the top-13 to tie Kahne for third place just 46 points behind Johnson.

And after another slow start to his season, Stewart has become a force with his win in Martinsville and a third-place showing at the Texas Motor Speedway. In 2005, after seven events and just three top-10s, Stewart was in 11th place overall, 393 points behind Johnson.

Stewart has a good history on Phoenix's one-mile oval with a win and five top-10s in eight starts.

Defending Subway Fresh 500 winner Kurt Busch will start seventh on the grid.

Other drivers of note and their starting positions: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (11th), Ryan Newman (13th), Kevin Harvick (15th), Martin (18th), Jeff Gordon (19th) and Kahne (22nd).

Newman has gone nine races without winning a pole. He led the series with eight pole victories in 2005.

The race is set to begin on Saturday at 8:25 p.m. (et).

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