Kasey Kahne and the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota team set a new Darlington Raceway track record Saturday with a lap of 181.254 mph (27.131 seconds), shattering the former record of 180.370 mph set last season by Jamie McMurray.
The pole marks Kahne’s first of the 2011 season, second since joining Red Bull Racing Team (the first came at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November 2010), fourth at Darlington and 21st overall in his Sprint Cup career. It’s also Red Bull Racing Team’s ninth pole in five years in the Sprint Cup Series.
“The Red Bull team did an awesome job today,” Kahne said. “We made one run right at the end of practice, and we got one lap right before the rain came. We were really on the loose side and ended up fifth and made the right adjustments from there to get the pole today.
“It felt great. The car’s been awesome all week long. The Toyota engine is running great. We just have to keep working on it for tomorrow afternoon. We had a good practice, and we did all race stuff until the end. Hopefully, we’ll have a good shot tomorrow night.”
The odds are in his favor. Five of Kahne’s 11 Sprint Cup wins have come after starting from the pole.
“We just keep getting better each week,” he said. “That’s what you have to do to keep up with everyone. I think the confidence is good and the momentum will carry.”
The green flag for the Showtime Southern 500 will fly Saturday night at 7:45 p.m. ET. Kahne’s teammate, Brian Vickers, will roll off eighth in the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota.