Kasey Kahne wins pole for Sunday's AMS race

Two drivers needing some spark to ignite their runs for a Chase berth got them during qualifying for Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Kasey Kahne, driving the No. 4 Toyota, ran a lap at 186.192 mph to grab the top spot at what he describes as his favorite track. After 14 races and one qualifying session at AMS, Kahne has two wins, two poles, six top-five and eight top-10 finishes.

Alongside him on the front row will be Clint Bowyer.

Kahne said AMS’s abrasive surface reminds him of the dirt tracks where he cut his racing teeth, particularly Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, one of the premier dirt tracks in America.

Kahne said that just like Eldora, AMS offers drivers several options if one particular groove isn’t working for them.

“I enjoy running out against the wall or down on the white line, whatever you have to do to get the speed out of your car,” he said. “I just like being able to search around and find the best spot on the race track.”

Kahne also said he still considers himself a candidate for one of the 12 spots in the Chase. He’s 15th in the standings, and a win at AMS would put him in the middle of the battle for one of the two wild-card berths that go to drivers outside the top 10 who have at least one race win.

Bowyer said his strong qualifying effort comes at a time when his team needs every break it can get to move up in the standings and grab a berth in the Chase.

“We’re not out of this thing. We can’t give up on it,” Bowyer said. “A good qualifying run is a breath of fresh air for all of us.”

Bowyer enters the AdvoCare 500 12th in the standings and needing to win a race or move up two spots in the standings to get in the Chase, which begins after next weekend’s race at Richmond International Raceway.

Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers and Jeff Gordon completed the top five in the AMS lineup.

Vickers, who drives for the same Red Bull team as Kahne, could use a strong run Sunday, as his immediate future is uncertain. Red Bull has announced that it is backing out of NASCAR team ownership after this season. Kahne already has signed to drive for Hendrick Motorsports. Vickers could move to another team or stay with his current team if new backers are found.

David Ragan of Unadilla, the only native Georgian in the race, will start 19th.