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Kurt Busch hopes Kansas pole first step to stopping eight-race skid

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- After a tough recent stretch that dropped him from first to sixth in points, Kurt Busch felt like his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team turned the corner with a fourth-place finish last week in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, N.C.

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Busch, the only driver to be in the top 10 in points after every race this season, added a little more momentum on Saturday at Kansas Speedway, earning the pole for Sunday's STP 400.

Busch, who has finished 14th or worse in six of his last eight races, benefited from an early qualifying draw, clocking a lap of 30.901 seconds on Kansas Speedway's 1.5-mile track at a speed of 174.752 miles per hour.

Busch's pole, the 13th on his career and first of 2011, came after he damaged his car in a Friday practice spin.

"This is a great feeling, especially after yesterday when we spun in practice and had to repair front end damage,'' Busch said. "I have to thank my guys for standing behind me, not just through yesterday but some of the tough times we've been through as of late.

"The guys back at the shop, I know that they're slapping some high-fives today.''

Busch said that the qualifying effort came after the team made significant changes from practice.

“It's an amazing feeling when you're down a little bit and you're not exactly keen on knowing what to change or where to go,'' Busch said. "Yesterday we were struggling in practice. We threw a bunch of things at the car today and got the pole.

"It's an amazing world, the world of motorsports. One day you're down and the next day you're up.''

Juan Pablo Montoya will start Sunday's race alongside Busch on the front row after a lap of 174.154 mph. The green flag will fall at 1 p.m. on FOX.

"It was a good lap,'' Montoya said. "It should have been better. I got pretty loose in (turns) three and four and lot a ton of time there. But I think we've got a really good race car.

"This Target Chevy has been pretty good this past couple of weeks so I'm pretty excited. We only did one qualifying run yesterday and we aborted it, so actually to run as fast as we did today, I'm pretty happy.''

Kurt Busch's brother, Kyle, qualified third while Brian Vickers and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

"A lot better than we expected,'' Kyle Busch said. "The M&M's Camry, the guys did a good job with it and gave me a good piece to run a good lap. That's all we can ask for.''

Joplin, Mo. native Jamie McMurray and Columbia, Mo. native Carl Edwards will start sixth and seventh while Martin Truex Jr. will start eighth, Paul Menard ninth and Kevin Harvick 10th.

Some of Sprint Cup's big names will start deep in the field, with five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson starting 31st, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 28th and Emporia native Clint Bowyer 27th.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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