Busch tops qualifying, starts first on Sunday

Kyle+Busch+talks+to+the+media+after+topping+the+speed+charts+in+Friday+evening%27s++qualifying+session.+Busch+will+lead+the+field+to+green+after+turning+a+lap+of+184.652+mph.

Lilly Carter

Kyle Busch talks to the media after topping the speed charts in Friday evening's qualifying session. Busch will lead the field to green after turning a lap of 184.652 mph.

Ashton Long, Staff Writer

Kyle Busch will lead the field to green on Sunday after posting the fastest lap in Friday evening’s qualifying session.  Busch put the No. 18 Snickers Almond Toyota at the top of the scoring pylon with a speed of 184.652 mph.

We knew the three rounds of qualifying would be a challenge. Seems like we got it right for the last round of it…I was able to hit a good lap with the last one.”

— Kyle Busch

“We knew the three rounds of qualifying would be a challenge. Seems like we got it right for the last round of it,” Busch said. “I was able to hit a good lap with the last one.”

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Liberty National Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, ran second with a speed of 184.419 mph. Kevin Harvick, in his No. 4 Jimmy Johns Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing, ran third behind Newman with a speed of 184.376 mph. Daniel Suarez ran fourth in the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing with a speed of 184.211. Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Autotrader Ford for Team Penske, finished out the top five with a speed of 183.850 mph.

Several big names did not make it to the final round of qualifying. Seven-time MENCS champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 22nd with a speed of 181.224 mph. Joey Logano qualified 16th at 182.105 mph. Series rookies Alex Bowman ended in the 18th position and William Byron will start 23rd. Coming off his second place finish last week, Bubba Wallace Jr. qualified 19th with a speed of 181.461 mph.

The main highlight of the second round came at the very end when Denny Hamlin knocked Jamie McMurray out of top-12 with just seconds left.

“Atlanta is a tough place,” Busch said. “It is certainly not easy and you have to make sure you buy your time with the tires.”

Austin Dillon, last week’s Daytona 500 winner, topped the list of notable drivers not making it out of the first round of the qualifying session. He starts 25th alongside Ryan Blaney. The talk of Georgia leading up to race weekend at AMS has been Chase Elliott from Dawsonville, but unfortunately he will start 27th.

The 2017 MENCS champion, Martin Truex Jr., did not take a lap during qualifying after his car failed pre-qualification inspection three times. Per the NASCAR rulebook, his car chief has been ejected from Atlanta Motor Speedway for the weekend and Truex Jr. will serve a 30-minute penalty during practice tomorrow.

The final MENCS practice starts at 12 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.