Defending race champ Biffle wins Kansas pole

Vancouver driver will start alongside teammate Edwards

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The defending champion won’t go away quietly.

Vancouver’s Greg Biffle might not have qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but he won the pole for Sunday’s Hollywood 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Biffle, a two-time winner at Kansas, turned a lap of 174.887 in his Ford Fusion and will start on the front row next to Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards of Columbia, who posted a 174.571.

Roush Fenway Fords claimed three of the first four spots as Matt Kenseth was fourth and will sit outside of Kyle Busch, who was third at 174.447 in a Toyota.

Edwards, Busch and Kenseth are all involved in the Chase, but Biffle, who had qualified for the last three Chases, took satisfaction in winning the pole at a track where he not only has won twice (2007 and 2010) but has finished second once and third three times.

“There’s one thing you can do when you don’t make the Chase and that’s win races,” said Biffle, whose last victory was last year at Kansas. “They’re not going to talk about you if you finish second, third, fourth or fifth. But if you win, they’re forced to talk about you when you’re not in the Chase.

“We are capable of winning races and have proved it time and time again. We are certainly capable of winning at these mile-and-a-half tracks. We felt that way going into Chicago and had problems, and we felt that way going into Dover, and I messed that one up single-handedly.

“So here we are with a fast car and ready for Sunday.”

Both Edwards and Busch were mildly surprised by their qualifying lap. Edwards’ previous best at qualifying at Kansas was fifth in 2005, while Busch matched his third-place start in June when he finished 12th.

“I would obviously like to be on the pole, but I didn’t think we would be this good coming out of practice,” said Edwards, who is second in the Chase standings. “We picked up four-tenths or something like that. I am proud of our qualifying effort, and I am proud that we have an all-Ford front row. There is a lot of pride in that for our guys at the shop.”

Busch, who is eighth in the standings, has not fared well at Kansas Speedway. His average finish is 22nd, and he hasn’t had a top-10 finish since he was seventh in 2006.

“Starting up front is obviously beneficial; getting a good pit selection is beneficial. To carry those things into Sunday ... my next closest competitor in the Chase (Edwards) starts right in front of me, and I’m not going to worry about who’s behind me.”

With his teammate on the pole, Edwards could pick up a quick bonus point if Biffle lets him get past him so he can lead a lap.

“I don’t think the first lap is going to be a lap that I would let him lead,” Biffle said, “but I may not have that opportunity. He may be faster than me on the start of the race. You just never know. If it comes down to him needing to lead a lap at some point in the race for a point, and we had a little room on the rest of the field, then certainly I would do it for any of my teammates when it comes down to that.

“Carl is going to have a fast car. I don’t think it will be an issue with him leading a lap.”

Kevin Harvick, the leader in the Chase standings, qualified 14th.