In a qualifying session featuring drivers continually fighting cars that were jumping sideways, Kyle Busch seemingly emerged Friday with the top starting spot for Sunday's NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. But Busch's No. 18 Toyota failed post-qualifying inspection, handing the pole-position to Kurt Busch (191.582), Kyle's older brother.
Because Kyle Busch's time was disallowed, he will have to start the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at the rear of the 39-car field.
"Overall with the way the developments came up from tech inspection this shows the amount of enforcement that NASCAR is ready to imply to their technical procedures on what a car has to do to comply to all specs," Kurt Busch said.
NASCAR inspectors determined Kyle Busch's car was too far out of alignment in the rear, prompting the disqualification.
"We were perfectly legal beforehand, which obviously or we wouldn't have qualified and just the amount of load on the track moves everything a little bit and that little bit was a little bit too much," said Adam Stevens, Busch's crew chief.
Rounding out the top five qualifiers were Jamie McMurray, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Atlanta is the season debut of the low downforce aerodynamic rules package that will be used on non- restrictor-plate tracks that comprise the Sprint Cup Series Schedule. The setup is designed to make cars harder to handle and increase tire wear, which in turn produces a more exciting product with greater passing.
The impact was noticeable throughout the three-round session, as cars regularly broke loose requiring drivers to manhandle them around the 1.5-mile oval.
"I think race trim is going to be super-exciting for us as drivers," Newman said. "I hope the fans can enjoy it. You're putting the driver back into the equation, which is part of what we were missing in my opinion."
Kevin Harvick qualified sixth, followed by Carl Edwards, Austin Dillon, Martin Truex Jr. and Brian Scott completing the top 10.
Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin starts 12th.
Chase Elliott, the Daytona 500 pole-sitter, did not have the same speed Friday, failing to advance out of the first of three rounds. The Dawsonville, Ga., native posted just the 24th-fastest time.
Also struggling was Joey Logano, normally a prolific qualifier who won a series-best six races a year ago. Unable to find the handle on his No. 22 car, he will start 26th.
"I don't really understand," Logano said. "We weren't super-fast in practice, but we were a top-10 car for sure. ... We've got to figure it out. We've got a little bit of work to do. It's obviously a new package and we apparently don't have our heads wrapped around it perfectly yet, but we'll get it."
All 39 entries entered will start Sunday's 500-mile race.
Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 starting lineup
|5||Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||Ford||189.863|
|9||Martin Truex, Jr.||Toyota||189.364|
|16||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Chevrolet||189.818|
|39||Kyle Busch||Toyota||No speed|