NASCAR: Kurt Busch takes pole with a record run

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Kurt Busch ended up on top at Darlington Raceway a week after finishing upside-down at Talladega.

Five days ago, Busch went airborne near the end of the Aaron’s 499 and crash landed on Ryan Newman.

On Friday, Busch sped around Darlington with a fast lap of 181.918 miles per hour for his third career pole here. It surpassed the 2-year-old record of 181.254 m.p.h. held by Kasey Kahne.


‘‘Last week, we ended on our lid and this week, we’re here with a track record,’’ Busch said.

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Defending Southern 500 champion Jimmie Johnson will start alongside Busch, followed by Busch’s younger brother Kyle, Kahne, and Martin Truex Jr.

On Friday night at Darlington, Kyle Busch won his fifth Nationwide Series race of the year, pushing past Joey Logano 18 laps from the end to win.

It was Busch’s 56th Nationwide win, extending his career mark.

It’s been quite a week for the elder Busch.


There was the frightening crash in the last Sprint Cup race, then an Indy Car test session for Michael Andretti at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday. It’s also the 10-year anniversary of the thrilling, side-by-side duel with Ricky Craven in which Busch lost the race by .002 seconds — the closest finish in Sprint Cup since the series went to electronic timing in 1993.

‘‘It’s been surreal,’’ Busch said. ‘‘It’s been an amazing ride.’’

And it might not be finished. Busch’s Furniture Row team were the surprise winners at Darlington two years ago, Regan Smith holding on to bring victory to the single-car program and the only NASCAR operation based west of the Mississippi River, in Denver.

‘‘To put it on the pole is a great surprise, but it’s also showing the strength of the team,’’ Busch said.

Busch joined with Craven earlier in the week to talk about their metal-swapping duel, where both crossed the line in a virtual tie while grinding on each other. Busch said he felt like a winner despite finishing second because he raced hard and clean and gave all he could in chasing victory.


Busch was also stoked about his Indy Car session, where he turned laps in excess of 220 m.p.h. ‘‘It was a kid in a candy store moment,’’ he said.

Busch has had five previous top-10 finishes at Darlington, the last coming when he took third in 2010. He remembered his first pole here, in 2001 when he became the youngest driver in history to start up front at the Southern 500, surpassing Jeff Gordon for the top spot.

‘‘Just because of my stupidity, I got it,’’ he said.