Matt Kenseth wins pole at Richmond (again)

Matt Kenseth, left, talks to a member of his crew prior to qualifying for the Monster Energy Cup Series auto race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va., Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Matt Kenseth is starting first at Richmond for the second-straight race.

Kenseth posted the fastest lap in the third round of qualifying to earn the pole for Saturday night’s race. It’s the final race of the regular season and Kenseth is one of three drivers provisionally in the playoff field via points.

Winless so far in 2017, Kenseth is now well-positioned to repeat what he did at Richmond in 2015. Two years ago he led 352 of 400 laps on the way to a win and the top seed in the playoffs.

While a win won’t get him the top seed for the 2017 playoffs, it’ll guarantee his presence in the playoffs. If a first-time winner not named Kenseth, Jamie McMurray or Chase Elliott wins on Saturday, one of the aforementioned three will miss out on the playoffs.

Richmond spring winner Joey Logano fits the first-time winner bill too. Logano’s car failed post-race inspection after that win and the victory doesn’t count for his playoff eligibility. Logano is too far back of Kenseth, McMurray and Elliott to pass them in the point standings so he needs to win if he wants to make the playoffs for a fifth-straight season.

Here’s how the field will roll off Saturday night.

1. Matt Kenseth
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Kurt Busch
4. Kyle Larson
5. Martin Truex Jr.
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Kyle Busch
8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
9. Chase Elliott
10. Erik Jones
11. Jamie McMurray
12. Joey Logano
13. Clint Bowyer
14. Ryan Blaney
15. Brad Keselowski
16. Daniel Suarez
17. Kasey Kahne
18. Trevor Bayne
19. Danica Patrick
20. Jimmie Johnson
21. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
22. AJ Allmendinger
23. Aric Almirola
24. Chris Buescher
25. Matt DiBenedetto
26. Paul Menard
27. Ryan Newman
28. Michael McDowell
29. David Ragan
30. Landon Cassill
31. Austin Dillon
32. Ty Dillon
33. Corey LaJoie
34. Gray Gaulding
35. Cole Whitt
36. Reed Sorenson
37. Jeffrey Earnhardt
38. Derrike Cope
39. BJ McLeod

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!