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Kurt Busch takes Atlanta pole after Kyle Busch fails inspection

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Kyle Busch's pole-winning car failed post-qualifying technical inspection Friday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, putting his brother Kurt Busch on the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

NASCAR said the degree to which the vertical angle of Kyle Busch's rear wheels were skewed -- called the toe -- was illegal, but there would be no further penalties other than disallowing his qualifying time.

"We're not the first and we're certainly not going to be the last," Busch said Saturday about having his qualifying time disallowed. "It's unfortunate, but you move on. Being thrown out after qualifying is a lot easier to take than being thrown out after the race or having your crew chief get a penalty or sit out a suspension or something like that. ... We'll be fine and work on what we need to do for tomorrow."

The defending Sprint Cup champion will start the Folds of Honor 500 last in the field at 39th.

"When you get out on the race track, things move, parts and pieces expand, they get hot and whatever and you miss on a laser beam by fifteen-thousandths of inch, It is what it is," Kyle Busch said after winning Saturday's Xfinity race. "We move on and we'll start in the back tomorrow and try to make sure that issue doesn't happen to us again."

Kurt Busch said in a statement that his brother's inspection results revealed "the amount of enforcement that NASCAR is ready to apply."

Joining Kurt Busch on the front row will be Jamie McMurray.

Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top five in qualifying for the second race of the season. Denny Hamlin, fresh off last week's Daytona 500 win, was eliminated in the second round.

Rookie Chase Elliott, who won the pole in Daytona, was bumped from the top 24 in the final minute of the first round by another rookie, Ryan Blaney.

NASCAR senior VP of competition Scott Miller said NASCAR began measuring rear toe after qualifying this season at the drivers' request.

The maximum rear toe allowed in post-qualifying inspection is 0.15 degrees more than in pre-qualifying inspection.

"Teams asked for it, we instituted it, and they didn't pass," Miller said. "The others [that went through tech] passed."

More rear skew could improve performance by helping maintain speed through corners, though Kyle Busch crew chief Adam Stevens said the thousands of an inch that the car was in violation wouldn't have made a difference.

The car passed pre-qualifying tech, and Stevens seemed thankful the team learned its lesson instead of in a race, where they would have likely faced a fine and points penalty.

"The parts move, everything moves, so you expect it to be a little bit different," Stevens said. "This is the first opportunity we've had to gather post [qualifying] information, was right now, and it's game time and it was too much. ... Just the amount of load on the track moves everything a little bit, and that little bit was a little bit too much."

Now that the team knows how much the rear toe will change in a qualifying run, it can better judge where its rear toe needs to be before qualifying, Stevens said.

"I'd rather come from the back here than come from the back at a lot of places," Stevens said. "The groove will spread out and you can run a lot of different lanes. ... It's a long race."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.