Matt Kenseth bounced back from his Kansas penalties by storming to pole position for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Kenseth put in a lap of 130.334 mph in qualifying ahead of Saturday’s night race at the 0.75-mile circuit, joined by team-mate Brian Vickers, who is still standing in for the injured Denny Hamlin, on the front row of the grid.
The driver of the #20 Toyota Camry was subject to some of the heaviest penalties (which team Joe Gibbs Racing are appealing) ever given out by NASCAR after last week’s race in Kansas, with his engine deemed below the minimum weight in post-race inspections.
“When you only win nine poles in 14 years you’re pretty fired up for all of them.” said pole sitter Kenseth. “For sure, it was one of our goals this weekend was to come here and sit on the pole and kind of quiet down at least part of the noise. I was pretty glad we were able to accomplish that.
“It feels good to be on the pole. After this week, I thought it was real possible that we don’t win another pole this year the way qualifying usually is, but they give me such fast cars every week, it feels like we might get a few.”
Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five grid slots.