Daniel Suarez tops SHR teammate Almirola for Kentucky pole

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Suarez, the final of 36 cars to make a qualifying attempt on Friday, rocketed to the top of the leaderboard as Fords claimed four of the top-five starting positions.

Suarez’s average lap speed of 184.590 mph was almost a mile-an-hour faster than his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola (183.799 mph). Brad Keselowski ended up third (183.443 mph).

Kurt Busch, driving Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 1 Chevrolet, was fourth-fastest and the only non-Ford driver in the top-five. Kevin Harvick wound up fifth.

The pole is just the second for Suarez in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and first of the 2019 season. His previous pole came last season at Pocono Raceway.

“The car has been very fast the entire day. We had the fastest car (on long runs) in last practice and now we have the fastest car in qualifying,” Suarez, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, said. “I’m just very proud of my guys – everyone who makes this possible.

“We’ve been working very hard and it’s showing up at the race track.”

Asked what it means to start up front on what can be a very difficult track, Suarez said: “I really want to win so bad. I haven’t been in Victory Lane for a while. 

“The last time I was in Victory Lane was in Brazil. I’ve been looking forward to bringing trophy home for a while. We have a really fast car and now it’s up to me to make it happen tomorrow night.”

Rounding out the top 10 in qualifying are Daniel Hemric, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch.

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