DARLINGTON, S.C. --- Kasey Kahne continued his strong showing this year at Darlington Raceway, following a Trucks victory in March with a record-setting qualifying lap Friday for the Southern 500.
Kahne won his fourth career pole in nine starts at the track "Too Tough To Tame" with a lap of 181.254 mph, surpassing the mark of 180.370 mph set by Jamie McMurray a year ago.
Kahne was the marquee name in the Camping World Trucks event at Darlington two months ago while NASCAR's top two series had the weekend off. So how much did taking the checkered flag then help Kahne on Friday?
"I don't think that hurt us that all. We had a great truck that night, that whole day," Kahne said. "Any time you make laps on this track, it just builds on your confidence and builds on what you're looking for in your car."
Kahne will be joined on the front row tonight by Ryan Newman, who also bettered the previous record at 180.429. Defending race champion Denny Hamlin was third.
It was the fourth consecutive race since Darlington was repaved after the 2007 event that the qualifying record was broken. Greg Biffle did it in 2008 and Matt Kenseth followed in 2009.
Kahne's previous qualifying success had come on Darlington's old, abrasive, tire-chewing surface with poles at the track's 2004 spring race -- the last year it held two Sprint Cup weekends -- and in 2005 and 2006. His best finish came after his last pole, finishing third behind Biffle five years back.
NATIONWIDE SERIES: Kyle Busch finally broke through to win a Nationwide Series race at Darlington Raceway after near misses the past two years.
Busch moved past Elliott Sadler 23 laps from the end and stayed in front of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Hamlin to win the Royal Purple 200, his fifth Nationwide victory this season and 48th overall -- one behind Mark Martin's series record.
For all the success Busch has had in the series, he has struggled at Darlington.
He led for 143 laps in 2009 before cutting a tire and finishing 16th, than was edged out by Hamlin a year ago with what he thought was the faster car.
This time, Busch waited for his time as Kahne and Carl Edwards took turns at the top before falling back. Sadler was third.
James Hylton, 76, became the oldest driver to start a race in NASCAR's top three series, Hylton, whose first Sprint Cup event came in 1964, lasted only two laps before heading to the garage.
BUNDLE OF JOY: Edwards and his wife, Kate, have announced the birth of their second child, son Michael.
Edwards said Friday that Michael Edwards was born Wednesday weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces.
and that he and his mother were in good health.