Truex shines in Kansas qualifying, Jones among those with tech issues


Martin Truex Jr. qualified third in Friday evening’s NASCAR Cup Series time trials at Kansas Speedway. His No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota will start Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 from the inside of Row 2.

Truex’s teammate Erik Jones wasn’t as fortunate as his No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota was one of 11 cars that didn’t make it through the pre-qualifying technical inspection process. Some other top-name drivers failing to answer the qualifying bell were Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer.

Jones will start 32nd, outside of Row 16.

“It’s a bummer,” said Jones. “I thought we had a pretty decent car. We were 12th fastest or 13th fastest in practice with a car that I didn’t think was driving that well. I think we got it driving a lot better for qualifying, just didn’t get a chance to show it. We’ll go back at it again and hope for the best here in the race.”

Truex was ninth fastest after the first round (28.703 seconds at 188.134 mph), sixth after the second (28.526/189.301) and third in the pole-shootout round of 12 drivers (28.541 at 189.201). It was his eighth top-10 qualifying effort in the first 11 races.

“Well, we’re third, but wanted to be first so today was an ok day,” said Truex with a smile. “Excited to have Auto-Owners on board – we won with them on the car last year in Darlington. So right now we’re looking forward to also getting a Kansas win for them.

“Kansas has been good and bad for us over the years — we led a lot of laps here but haven’t had a win yet so hopefully that blue Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota will bring us some luck. We were fastest today in race trim practice so if we can make the right adjustments for the night race we’ll be in the ballgame.”

The pole winner was Ryan Blaney (28.481/189.600). Rounding out the top 12 were: Joey Logano, Truex, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray.

Saturday night’s race will be televised on Fox Sports 1, 5:30 p.m. MT (6:30 local time).