NASCAR & Auto Racing

NASCAR: Matt Kenseth takes Food City 500 pole; teammates in top 5

Matt Kenseth talks to crew members during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tenn. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kenseth will start from the pole in Sunday’s race with teammates Carl Edwards qualifying third and Denny Hamlin fifth.
Matt Kenseth talks to crew members during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tenn. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kenseth will start from the pole in Sunday’s race with teammates Carl Edwards qualifying third and Denny Hamlin fifth. Getty Images

Joe Gibbs Racing appears to be picking up right where it left off at NASCAR’s most recent short-track event.

Three JGR drivers, led by winner Denny Hamlin, finished in the top five two weeks ago at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

In Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, JGR driver Matt Kenseth will start from the pole with teammates Carl Edwards qualifying third and Hamlin fifth. David Ragan, driving as a substitute for Kyle Busch in JGR’s No. 18 Toyota, qualified 11th.

The pole is the 14th of Kenseth’s career and first of the 2015 season. Kenseth’s pole-winning average lap speed of 128.632 mph in Round 3 of group qualifying was significantly off the qualifying record set last August by Kevin Harvick (131.362 mph).

Not known during most of his career as a particularly strong qualifier, six of his 14 poles have come since joining JGR at the beginning of the 2013 season.

Brad Keselowski will start second and Harvick fourth.

Todd Parrott crew chief for a day

Former Cup series championship crew chief Todd Parrott served as interim crew chief for Richard Childress Racing’s No. 31 team and driver Ryan Newman on Friday while the organization mulled whether to make a final appeal of its tire penalty.

Late Friday afternoon, RCR elected to make one final appeal to Chief Appellate Officer Bryan Moss, which will allow the three suspended team members – including crew chief Luke Lambert – to return to work Saturday until the appeal is held.

Parrott, who won the 1999 championship with driver Dale Jarrett, has most recently served as RCR’s competition director for its Xfinity Series programs.

“I have a lot of years in the Cup garage,” Parrott said. “Hopefully, it shows the depth of RCR, while Luke is going through his deal here with his suspension. We have a great bunch of guys.”

Mr. Harvick goes to Washington

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama will welcome reigning Cup series champion Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team members to the White House to honor his 2014 championship.

This visit continues a tradition begun by Obama of honoring athletes and sports teams for their efforts to give back to their communities.

The public ceremony is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. and can be viewed on WhiteHouse.gov/live.

More tire tests

BK Racing, Furniture Row Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Petty Motorsports will take part in a Goodyear tire test April 27-28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Additional upcoming Goodyear test sessions include Iowa Speedway on May 5 (Xfinity Series only), Dover (Del.) International Speedway on May 11-12 and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on June 9-10.

Sorenson in No. 34 at Richmond

Front Row Motorsports announced Friday that Reed Sorenson will drive its No. 34 Ford in the Cup race next weekend at Richmond, Va.

Chris Buescher has been driving for the team while regular driver David Ragan has been filling in for Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing. Buescher, however, is not running the Cup race at Richmond.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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