By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Through his first ten road course starts of his career Kasey Kahne looked just to survive to race another day. He was never a threat, and in fact never finished inside the top-ten at a road course. However last season at this very race at Infineon Raceway Kahne changed his road racing luck.
Kahne led 37 of the 113 laps that day en route to his first ever road course victory. Well after Friday Kahne is beginning to look like a road ringer.
Kahne will look to defend his title of king of the road from last season from the pole position in Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350. He nabbed the pole with a lap of 1:16.3, which is the equates to 93.893 mph. According to Kahne, he actually was somewhat holding back on his lap.
“It was a good run. I came to the green, I felt I overshot (Turn) 11 a little bit.” Kahne said. “So when I got back there, you know I ran the whole lap and I wasn’t as aggressive as I could be, Sliding the car a little bit, but it was really comfortable and under control.”
However Kahne must of been just aggressive enough, as he just barely edged out four-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson by 68-thousandths of a second.
Johnson, who has never been known as a great road racer, will have a great starting spot in his attempt to capture his first ever road course victory.
Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five in the qualifying session. The real surprise of qualifying was Bobby Labonte. Labonte was able to turn a lap fast enough for the eighth starting spot in his No. 71 TRG Motorsports Toyota.
Other Notables: Marcos Ambrose (6th), Tony Stewart (7th), Mark Martin (11th), Denny Hamlin (12th), Juan Montoya (14th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (24th), and Kyle Busch (27th).
The drivers who were not fast enough to race on Sunday were Brandon Ash, Brian Simo, and Michael Waltrip. Waltrip who was running a special paint scheme from Toyota’s ‘Sponsafyer’ program, had a car that was wicked. The brakes locked up several times, and he had no chance to make the race after that happened.