Fifteen drivers broke the Las Vegas Motor Speedway track record during Stratosphere Pole Day qualifying for the 15th annual Kobalt Tools 400 but Kasey Kahne did it best. Kahne’s Hendrick Motorsports Farmers Insurance Chevrolet blistered the 1.5-mile superspeedway to the tune of 190.456 mph (28.353 sec.), eclipsing Matt Kenseth’s old track record of 188.884 mph set in 2011.
The Enumclaw, Wash. native has earned a total of 23 Coors Light Pole Awards, including three at LVMS (2004, 2007 and 2012). This weekend’s pole also qualifies him for the 2013 Shootout at Daytona.
“The lap felt great. The car was really fast in qualifying,” Kahne continued. “It got through Turns 1 and 2 really well. In Turn 3, I was carrying more speed into the corner. I watched (teammates) Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and Jimmie (Johnson) and saw where they were running during practice. They were a little bit faster than I was. I checked where (last year’s pole winner) Matt Kenseth ran last year and he ran right around the top in Turns 1 and 2 and then on the bottom in Turns 3 and 4 and that’s what I did.”
Kahne’s record run marked the fourth consecutive year of new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track records at LVMS.
“The right-side tire is a little bit softer so that would grab a little more speed,” Kahne explained. “The engines are always getting better and the guys are always working on downforce. The cars are always evolving. I think it’s just a combination of a lot of things.”
Kahne edged Kyle Busch of Las Vegas for the pole. The M&M’s Toyota driver will share the front row with Kahne.
Las Vegas natives Kurt Busch and Brendan Gaughan will start 12th and 23rd, respectively.
Only Scott Riggs and Robby Gordon failed to qualify.
Stratosphere Pole Day will continue at LVMS. Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower executives announced a multi-year renewal of their sponsorship on March 9.
“We are really pleased that the Stratosphere has extended its partnership with LVMS and will continue to be an important part of our NASCAR Weekend,” said LVMS president Chris Powell. “The Stratosphere has taken a very active role in motorsports over the past several years with promotions and driver autograph sessions. The Stratosphere’s tower is one of the top tourist attractions in the city, and its recently renovated rooms make it one of the best hotel options for the thousands of race fans who will visit from out of town for the annual NASCAR Weekend.”