Joe Gibbs Racing has admitted that they’ve lacked the right speed in their cars to contend on most race weekends this season. Friday though, that speed came back to them.
Three of their four cars made the third and final round of qualifying at the Richmond International Raceway, as one of them, took home the pole.
Matt Kenseth earned his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole of the season, as the JGR driver will start first in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 (2 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN).
Kenseth, turned a lap of 121.076 mph in Friday’s qualifying session around the .75-mile Virginia short track, as that lap earned him his 19th career Cup pole, tying him with Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Speedy Thompson for 40th all-time.
It’s also his second RIR pole, both coming with JGR, and both coming in the Spring race. His other pole came in April 2013.
Kyle Busch will start seventh, Daniel Suarez 11th and Denny Hamlin 16th for JGR.
Ryan Blaney will be joining Kenseth on the front row after turning a lap at 120.854 mph in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.
Rounding out the top-five fastest cars were Martin Truex Jr. at 120.681 mph in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at 120.471 mph in the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford and Joey Logano at 120.380 mph in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford.
Series points leader Kyle Larson will start 18th after failing to advance to the third and final round of the session.
Austin Dillon failed pre-race inspection at Bristol Motor Speedway five times, the penalty for which is to start at the rear of the field this week. He took his qualifying lap at Richmond by never going faster than 82.792 mph to keep his tires fresh for the race.
Toyota Owners 400 Starting Lineup:
Row 1: Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney
Row 2: Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 3: Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick
Row 4: Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer
Row 5: Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray
Row 6: Daniel Suarez R, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Row 7: Ryan Newman, Chase Elliott
Row 8: Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin
Row 9: Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson
Row 10: Kasey Kahne, Erik Jones R
Row 11: Danica Patrick, AJ Allmendinger
Row 12: Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon R
Row 13: Aric Almirola, Paul Menard
Row 14: Michael McDowell, Landon Cassill
Row 15: Trevor Bayne, David Ragan
Row 16: Gray Gaulding R, Matt DiBenedetto
Row 17: Reed Sorenson, Corey LaJoie
Row 18: Jeffrey Earnhardt, Cole Whitt
Row 19: Timmy Hill, Austin Dillon