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NASCAR At Chicago: Chase Contender Matt Kenseth Wins Pole For Geico 400

Qualifying historically hasn't been Matt Kenseth's forte, but he has improved this season to post nine top-10 starts this years. The ninth came Saturday as he turned a lap of 29.469 seconds to secure the pole for Sunday's Geico 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway. It is Kenseth's second pole of the season (Las Vegas in March) and the sixth pole of his 427-race career.

Kenseth's fellow Wisconsinite Paul Menard will start second, followed by Chase contenders Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, and Brad Keselowski in positions three-six. The rest of the top-10 features Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano.

Jimmie Johnson, seeking his first-ever Chicago victory and his six-straight NASCAR Sprint Cup title, will start 12th. The rest of the championship hopefuls are Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 19th, Jeff Gordon in 23rd, Tony Stewart in 26th, Denny Hamlin in 27th, and Kevin Harvick in 30th.

Harvick's poor starting effort should not be cause for much concern. His Chevrolet has been fast throughout the weekend, and he consistently qualified poorly during the 2010 Chase but turned in performances during the races themselves that nearly ended Johnson's championship streak at four.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.