Kurt Busch wins pole at Las Vegas
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Busch and his brother Kyle - who won the inaugural event last year - are Las Vegas natives who consider this race the most important on the series.
"I'm pretty stoked," Kurt Busch said. "It's something you can't count your chickens before they've hatched, but this would be a special win."
Busch grew emotional in his pole-winners press conference, having to stop to compose himself and wipe away tears when he recognized one of his father's former racing rivals, who was at the track in a media role.
"I just love Vegas," he said. "It's the people that make it special to me. It's just fun seeing everybody."
Busch turned a lap of 188.719 mph (303.7 kph) to claim the top starting spot for Sunday's race. Jeff Gordon was second and Ryan Newman qualified third and was followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch.
Kyle Busch held the previous track record of 185.995 mph (299.3 kph). In all, 18 drivers bettered that speed.
Kurt Busch, who is winless in nine previous starts at Las Vegas, credited new crew chief Steve Addington for his strong qualifying run. Addington was Kyle Busch's crew chief for Kyle's win here last year. He was fired in October from Joe Gibbs Racing, and Kurt Busch hired him in December for his team.
"Steve Addington definitely has his game on for this place," Kurt Busch said.
Only two drivers failed to make the 43-car field,