Kyle Busch is riding a wave of momentum that is unprecedented so early in a NASCAR season.
After only two race weekends, Busch is first in Sprint Cup series points with two fourth-place finishes, second in points in the Nationwide series with two runner-up finishes and first in the Craftsman Truck series, including a victory.
"I'm a pretty good surfer, so as long as the wave's there I'm going to ride it," Busch said Friday after winning the pole for Sunday's UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The dude from Las Vegas was able to "hang 10" -- or at least his No. 18 Toyota -- through the turns faster than any other driver.
Busch, 22, won his first Las Vegas pole with a best lap of 29.613 seconds at an average speed of 182.352 mph.
"I don't think I could have run the lap he did if I tried 100 times," said Carl Edwards, who finished 0.075 seconds and nearly 1 mph slower than Busch and will join Busch on the front row. Edwards won Monday's rain-delayed race at Fontana, Calif.
No one has been more impressed with Busch since he joined the Cup series five years ago than veteran Mark Martin, who won the first Cup race on the 11/2-mile tri-oval.
"I've seen it coming for quite some time," said Martin, who qualified third in the No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet. "He's the wheel man of the series right now. I can't use the (expletives) I might use in the garage; he's (just) doing it. Kyle is going fast, and he's taking your breath."
None of the 10 previous pole winners for a Las Vegas Cup race has followed with a win on Sunday. But Busch isn't deterred. He probably isn't afraid of surfing with sharks.
In six NASCAR races this year, he hasn't finished lower than fourth. This was supposed to be somewhat of a transition year because Busch is in his first season driving a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
"It's been a short (transition). It's been pretty good," Busch said. "We've had some great success and some great luck so far with the Gibbs stuff. We are proving the Gibbs equipment is just as good as the Hendrick (Motorsports) stuff."
Well, at least Busch did.
Gibbs teammates Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin qualified 26th and 28th. Hendrick's Jeff Gordon will start fourth and Jimmie Johnson -- Gordon's teammate and winner of the last three Las Vegas Cup races -- will start 35th in the 43-car field.
"It's pretty special to be on the pole at your home track, but it would be better to be in the winner's circle after Sunday's race," Busch said.
The Durango High School graduate has three top-10 finishes in four Las Vegas Cup races, including second in 2005 and third the following year.
Older brother Kurt Busch, fourth in Cup points, qualified ninth in his No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge.
"It's nice to bump up from where we've (started) lately," the elder Busch said of starting the Daytona 500 in the 43rd spot before finishing second and starting last week's race 36th before finishing 13th.
Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 383-0247.