LONG POND, Pa. — Kyle Busch will start his 200th career Sprint Cup race at the front of the field.
Winner of two of the last four races, Busch turned a lap at 169.485 mph Friday to win the pole for Sunday's NASCAR race at Pocono Raceway and extend a mid-season hot streak that has lifted him to second in the points standings.
Now the driver that fans love to hate hopes to parlay his first pole at the 2.5 mile-long Tricky Triangle into a respectable finish. His best finish at Pocono was fourth in 2005, and he hasn't finished higher than 16th over the last two years.
"It would mean a lot," Busch said when asked about getting a win in his milestone start. "This is a place I've struggled at ... You can come around here and it can be really, really frustrating at this place because it is so long, you can beat your head against the headrest."
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Busch won his second pole of the season, claiming victory at Richmond last month after starting up front.
Clint Bowyer qualified second, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third.
Earnhardt will have his best start since winning the pole at Atlanta in March. He hasn't finished higher than 18th over his last four races.
"We've had a terrible month ... we had a good run today," said Earnhardt, who has two second-place finishes in his career at Pocono. "Every little thing helps the confidence."
Points leader Harvick will start 22nd Sunday.
Burton says there's no feud
LONG POND, Pa. — Jeff Burton jokes he gets all the drama in his life he needs from his 14-year-old daughter, he doesn't need a feud with Kyle Busch to add to the heartburn.
So forgive the veteran driver if he's not exactly in the mood to add his name to the growing list of drivers who find themselves at odds with NASCAR's resident bad boy.
Is Burton still a little annoyed at Busch for knocking him out of contention at the end of last week's race at Charlotte? Sure. Just don't expect Burton to go looking for retribution on Sunday at Pocono.
"I'm not interested in a weekly confrontation," said Burton, who qualified 13th Friday. "I don't like yearly confrontations much less weekly. I'm here to race Pocono and go out and win this race and I know he is too."
That's what they were doing following the final restart Charlotte Motor Speedway last Sunday. Both cars were running in the top 10 when Busch ran out of room trying to squeeze underneath Burton and ended up slicing Burton's left front tire.
Burton immediately checked up and tumbled through the field to a 25th-place finish. He angrily chased down Busch on pit road following the race, a rare public display of anger by one of NASCAR's most respected and levelheaded drivers.
"I like racing with Kyle and I don't have any problems with Kyle," Burton said. "He knows exactly how I feel and we can talk about it."
Busy summer for Danica
FORT WORTH, Texas — Danica Patrick is getting ready for a summer of driving without a vacation.
When Patrick resumes her part-time NASCAR Nationwide schedule for JR Motorsports later this month, the IndyCar Series' most popular driver will be switching back and forth between racing open-wheel cars and stock cars for the first time this season.
"As far as the schedule goes, I have a lot of predictability through the summer, which is nice," Patrick said Friday. "I think in years past, it's been fly here, do this appearance, do this photo shoot, then things come up last second. But when the race season is going, people know that I need that time and I need the time during the week to recover and get to the next one. So I'm looking forward to it."
In all, Patrick is set to run four NASCAR races this summer while also completing the rest of the IndyCar schedule. After the Indy season finale Oct. 2, Patrick will then run the final six Nationwide races of the season, giving her 13 NASCAR races this year.