Kasey Kahne wins Atlanta pole
ATLANTA -- Atlanta Motor Speedway's slippery track made an impression Saturday during qualifying for Sunday night's Sprint Cup race.
Kasey Kahne won the pole but made his 29.775 seconds around the track sound like a survival test.
Kahne said his car "got away from me a little bit" and he had to make an unexpected tap on his brakes coming out of a turn.
"It was definitely not a perfect lap, but it was a little better than what everyone else did," Kahne said.
Kahne will start one spot ahead of Clint Bowyer, as two long shots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship will have another shot at a much-needed win.
Kahne, who called Atlanta Motor Speedway his favorite track, won the pole with a speed of 186.196 mph. He is 15th in the points race and acknowledged he must win Sunday or next week in Richmond to have a shot to qualify for the Chase.
"We need to win if we want to make the Chase," Kahne said. "Right now we're one of the ones on the outside looking in."
Kahne said he likes racing in Atlanta because the slippery track reminds him of his background on dirt tracks. Kahne and other drivers said clouds over the track during qualifying affected the speeds.
"I've ran better laps than that before and not been on the pole," Kahne said. "You never know what you're going to get, but the track is pretty slippery right now and I like it like that."
Bowyer is 12th in the points standings.
"A good qualifying run is a breath of fresh air for all of us," Bowyer said.
"We need a good run desperately."
Bowyer sounded as if he had to hold his breath as he qualified second with his speed of 185.922.
"She was loose, holy cow!" Bowyer said. "It was a handful for all of us."
Bowyer called the track "really greasy."
Weather could change the track conditions and threaten the race. There is rain in the forecast for Sunday night as Tropical Storm Lee pushes north from the Gulf Coast.
"Hopefully we can look forward to a good run because I want to run tomorrow night," Bowyer said. "The weather isn't looking too good."
Brad Keselowski, who has won two of the last four races, qualified 14th.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press