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Kyle Busch, center, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Va., Saturday, April 21, 2018.

Kyle Busch gains pole; Harvick starts last

CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Busch is hoping his third career pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway will help end a dubious drought at a track that has frustrated him for years.

Kevin Harvick is probably just anxious to get back on the track.

Busch took the pole Thursday night for the Coca-Cola-Cola 600 on Sunday, while NASCAR Cup Series points leader Harvick will begin in the rear. Busch has never won a Cup points race in his previous 28 starts at Charlotte, although he did win an All-Star race here.

“We have had some really good runs here in the past, but we just haven’t been able to close the deal,” Busch said, referring to his 11 top-five finishes.

Busch won his 30th career pole for NASCAR’s longest race by turning a lap of 191.836 mph. Joey Logano will start alongside Busch on the front row.

But the big surprise was Harvick, who never got on the track after failing pre-race inspection three times. Car chief Robert Smith was ejected, and Harvick will have to sit out the first 30 minutes of practice Saturday.

Harvick has been dominant this season, winning five Cup races — including the last two — and the $1 million exhibition All-Star race Saturday.

Logano joked that with everyone chasing Harvick, “it sure don’t hurt” that he has to start at the back of the field.

But he doesn’t expect that to last for long.

“Are we taking bets on how long it will take him to get up there,” Logano said. “Where is the new betting thing? Is that what we’re doing now.”

Busch won’t have to look too far back in his rear view mirror to find his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. All four of Gibbs’ Toyotas finished in the top 10 with Denny Hamlin qualifying third, Erik Jones fourth and Daniel Suarez 10th.

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