Kahne tops Michigan qualifying for first pole since 2012
BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) It's hard to believe for those who follow NASCAR, but Kasey Kahne had not won a pole since 2012.
That drought is finally over.
Kahne took his first NASCAR Sprint Cup pole in nearly 32 months Friday, topping qualifying at Michigan International Speedway with a lap of 201.992 mph.
''In the past it seemed way easier to win poles,'' Kahne said. ''The last three years have been more difficult for some reason to qualify first, but we were able to do that today, and hopefully this will propel us into a good Sunday and also more poles and things throughout the season.''
It's the first pole for the 35-year-old driver since October 2012 at Kansas, but it's the 27th of his career, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Terry Labonte for 25th on the career list.
It's hard to say exactly why Kahne went so long without a pole. His theory is there's now more competition at the top during qualifying.
''I think the drivers, the teams are better than what they used to be. A lot of times a tenth separates 15 cars,'' he said. ''I don't remember it being quite like that when I first came into the sport.''
Points leader Kevin Harvick was second Friday.
Kahne, eighth in the standings, has yet to win this season. Kahne is the ninth different pole winner in the last nine races at Michigan - a streak that began after he won it in August 2010. His lone win at Michigan came in 2006.
''Doing a good job on restarts, that will be key for me,'' he said. ''If I'm getting good restarts and staying in the front, if we are in the first couple of rows staying where I'm at and not losing spots there, staying toward the front, that will be key to being there late in the race and having a shot on that final restart or that final long run, whatever it may be.''
Kahne fell well short of the track qualifying record of 206.558 mph set by Jeff Gordon last August.
''Mainly just the power of the car, we have a lot less power,'' Kahne said. ''As far as driving and how much 100 percent throttle I was on, I will guarantee that was more today than what it was last year. It was just slower because you don't have as much horsepower to run the speed around the track.''