HAMPTON, Ga. – Kyle Busch won the pole here Friday for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway while defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. and his Furniture Row Racing team failed to make a qualifying attempt.
Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota) captured the pole with a third-round lap of 184.652 mph. His run knocked Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet) off the top spot.
No pole winner has won a NASCAR premier series race at the 1.54-mile Atlanta track since 2006 (Kasey Kahne).
Truex, who scored eight victories last season on his way to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title, did not make a qualifying run after his No. 78 Toyota failed on its first three attempts to pass pre-qualifying inspection.
This weekend’s race is the first for teams on an intermediate track with the new optical scanning station, a system of cameras and projectors that record measurements of both the car body and chassis.
“It’s unfortunate that we had a situation where we had multiple failures in what was otherwise a very successful debut of the optical scanning station here for a downforce track,” Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, told FOX television after qualifying had been completed.
“We had rear-wheel alignment problems and we had body scan problems and we just weren’t able to get all of the things legal in those attempts and here we are,” he said of the Truex situation.
Because of the multiple failures, NASCAR ejected Blake Harris, car chief for the No. 78 team.
“We have the option to suspend a crew member,” Miller said. “It doesn’t have to be a car chief; that’s at our discretion. We have tapped the car chief as an important individual so that’s likely what we are going to do but by rule it’s a crew member ejection and 30-minute practice hold.”
Miller indicated that the body scan issues involved the “rear wheel openings” while there was a failure of the rear-toe as well.
In a release from the team, Furniture Row president Joe Garone said that the new inspection process “is just that, new.
“The tolerances are very tight, within thousandths of an inch. It’s difficult to push the limits where you feel you need to and still be within the tolerances of the new system.”
Garone said one thing the team will not do is “leave anything on the table and expect to get poles and wins.
“We will always push for the maximum,” he said.
As a result of the inspection failure, Truex will start 35th on Sunday. Only 36 cars are entered in the series’ second event of the season.