"We've been struggling here all day and just can't seem to get a grasp on it," said Busch, who was 33rd-fastest in the practice session before qualifying (with a lap of 31.569 seconds/171.054 mph). "We leaned on our teammates and tried out their qualifying setup at the end of practice. It was all I could do to hang on out there in our qualifying run. We're behind the eight ball right now, but we never give up. Tomorrow will be a better day here, I'm confident of that."
The battle for the Coors Light Pole came down to a trio of Hendrick Motorsports drivers, but probably not the three most folks would assume. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson had already made their runs when the attention turned to other members of the Hendrick stable. Dale Earnhardt Jr., out 25th in the order, turned in a lap of 30.808 seconds (175.279 mph). That knocked Tony Stewart (out first with a lap of 30.850 seconds/175.041 mph) from the top spot. But four drivers later, it was Mark Martin turning in a fast lap of 30.724 seconds (175.758 mph) to claim his seventh pole of the 2009 season and the 48th of his illustrious career.
Brad Keselowski, set to move to Penske Racing for the 2010 season, put a third Hendrick car into the third starting spot with a qualifying lap of 30.821 seconds (175.205 mph). Jamie McMurray snuck in a lap of 30.822 seconds (175.200 mph) to take the fourth starting spot, with Stewart's early lap hanging on to earn him the fifth starting spot.
Kasey Kahne will start sixth, with Joe Nemechek seventh, Clint Bowyer eighth, Jeff Gordon ninth and Scott Speed 10th. Jimmie Johnson leads the other Chase drivers as he will line up 11th. Brian Vickers starts 12th, with Juan Pablo Montoya 14th, Carl Edwards 17th, Denny Hamlin 22nd, Ryan Newman 30th and Greg Biffle 31st.
Busch's Penske Racing teammate David Stremme (31.250 seconds/172.799 mph) will start 32nd here on Sunday, while Sam Hornish Jr. (31.269 seconds/172.695 mph) goes from the 33rd starting position.
"The wind has been such a huge challenge here today," crew chief Pat Tryson added. "During practice, you never could get a consistent read with the wind gusts blowing the car everywhere. The good news is that the wind is supposed to die down, so hopefully we can get in some good practice sessions here tomorrow."
Saturday's schedule here at Kansas Speedway calls for offers practice sessions from 11:30 a.m. till 12:15 p.m. and from 12:50 p.m. till 1:50 p.m. Sunday's Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods (267 Laps, 400.5 miles) has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. CDT starting time and features live coverage by ABC-TV and MRN Radio.