As Kurt Busch prepares for Saturday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the Furniture Row Racing star can reflect on the topsy-turvy week he’s had.
Busch crashed and landed on Ryan Newman’s car last week at the Aaron’s 499, but didn’t bring that letdown to Darlington and set a new track record with a 181.918 mph lap.
It was Busch’s third pole win on the 1.36-mile track, and the build-up to Saturday’s race continues to revolve around his thrilling .002 loss to Ricky Craven in 2003 at Darlington. For a reminder of the finish many have called one of if not the best in NASCAR history.
Points leader Jimmie Johnson will start just behind Busch, and younger brother Kyle Busch follows at the No. 3 spot. Johnson is seeking his third win of the season, and hasn’t finished below 12th place in his last six races.
It was Kasey Kahne’s record Kurt Busch broke, but the Hendricks Motorsports driver put up a respectable 180.741 mph for the fourth spot.
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Starting at No. 6, Denny Hamlin will run his first full race since breaking a vertebrae in his back in March at Auto Club Speedway.
"I'll be able to make it physically, but it's a matter of whether I can keep my mind engaged through whatever maybe physical pains I have toward the end to keep our finishes good and obviously have a chance to win," Hamlin said to Yahoo! Sports. "Until we get to the end of the race, I don't know, but I know running the hour and a half straight practice was a good test for me, and I really at the end of it, felt no worse for the wear."
The race begins 6:45 p.m. and will be broadcast by FOX.
Check out the top 10 on the starting grid below.
Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 78
Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 48
Kyle Busch, Toyota, 18
Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 5
Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 56
Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 11
Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 20
Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 24
Greg Biffle, Ford, 16
Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 29