Daniel Suarez wins pole for Quaker State 400 at Kentucky

Daniel Suarez will lead the field to green for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Saturday night after running the fastest qualifying lap at Kentucky Speedway and claiming the pole.

The driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was the last to qualify Friday evening and his 184.590 mph lap knocked his teammate, Aric Almirola, off the pole,  besting his speed by .126 seconds. It was his first Busch Pole Award this year and the second of his career.  

“The car’s been very fast the entire day,” Suarez said. “We had probably the fastest car in last practice and the fastest car in qualifying, so I’m very proud of my guys, Ford Performance, Haas Automation and everyone who makes this program possible.”

In his third year of competition in the Cup Series, Suarez is impatiently anticipating his first series win.   

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“I really want to win so bad,” he explained. “I haven’t been in Victory Lane for a while. The last time I was in Victory Lane was in Brazil, and it was in a go-kart race. I have been looking forward to bring a trophy home for a while.

“We have very fast cars. Now it’s up to me to make it happen tomorrow (Saturday) night.”

Almirola hasn’t been to victory lane since last year at Talladega Superspeedway but has one top five and 10 top-10 finishes this season. He sees starting up front as an opportunity for more.

“It is a great day for us,” he said. “Everybody has been doing a good job of trying to figure out how to bring more speed and more driveability in our cars. I feel like this weekend so far we are off to a good start and the cars are fast and driving good. We have part one done, we have qualified up front and got ourselves good track position and pit stall selection and good clean air. Now we just have to go put a race together.”

Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski qualified third with a speed of 183.443 as Ford claimed the top three spots. Kurt Busch broke up the Ford dominance and will start fourth in his No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet with Kevin Harvick rounding out the top five in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

“That wasn’t bad. That was our best qualifying effort on a mile and a half this year I think,” Keselowski said. “That is something to be proud of. I didn’t quite have the speed to get the pole. I would have liked a later draw. I think there would have been some speed there. Daniel was a tenth-and-a-half ahead. All in all a decent run for our Discount Tire Ford Mustang and I am happy for Doug Yates and all of the Ford guys to have all three of our cars up front with the Fords. We will see what we have tomorrow.”

Daniel Hemric, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch round out the top 10 starting positions.  

The Quaker State 400 is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on NBCSN with radio coverage by PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Follow @angiecampbell_ for the latest NASCAR news and feature stories.

Starting Lineup for the Quaker State 400:

1. Daniel Suarez

2. Aric Almirola

3. Brad Keselowski

4. Kurt Busch

5. Kevin Harvick

6. Daniel Hemric

7. Clint Bowyer

8. Martin Truex Jr.

9. Austin Dillon

10. Kyle Busch

11. Joey Logano

12. William Byron

13. Jimmie Johnson

14. Paul Menard

15. Ryan Blaney

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17. Michael McDowell

18. Denny Hamlin

19. Kyle Larson

20. Chase Elliott

21. Erik Jones

22. Alex Bowman

*23. Ryan Newman – Failed pre-race inspection once, will start 35th

24. Matt DiBenedetto

25. David Ragan

26. Chris Buescher

27. Ty Dillon

28. Bubba Wallace

29. Corey LaJoie

30. Ryan Preece

31. Matt Tifft

32. Bayley Currey

33. Ross Chastain

34. Landon Cassill

35. BJ McLeod

*36. Quin Houff – Failed pre-race inspection once, will start 36th

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