Kyle Busch earns New Hampshire Sprint Cup pole, Jimmie Johnson starts 2nd; 72-year-old Morgan Shepherd also in
Jul 11, 2014, 5:53 PM EDT
Kyle Busch blistered the one-mile flat oval at New Hampshire Motor Speedway during Friday’s qualifying, being the only driver to exceed 138 mph to grab the pole for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301.
Busch’s pole-winning speed was 138.130 mph at 27.574 seconds. It’s his 15th career Sprint Cup pole, his second career pole at NHMS and his second pole of 2014.
“I gave it everything I had,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “I thought I was a little too tight, but I guess I was just driving through it enough that it was still carrying some good speed and I had the throttle down on both ends. I was thinking it was going to be a solid top-4, so I’m real proud of these guys on this (team).
“We didn’t unload great but made some good changes, some good ground today and hopefully we’ll do some more tomorrow.”
Busch finished second in both races at NHMS last season, including to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth in the the fall Chase race there.
“It’s tough to get a good lap around here,” Johnson said. “Of course we want to get the pole and want to be faster, but Kyle (Busch) found a little bit more out there than us. … This helps make the weekend so much easier to race with a good pit stall pick, track position and you can fine tune from here. Hopefully we can fine tune to make this a race-winning car.”
Seventh through 12th-fastest in qualifying were Brad Keselowski (136.805 mph), followed by Clint Bowyer (136.702), Martin Truex Jr. (136.629), Kasey Kahne (136.174), Jeff Gordon (136.058) and Kevin Harvick (135.912).
Notable items during the session:
* Joey Logano crashed in the first practice round and had to go to a backup car for Sunday’s race, but still managed to qualify sixth.
* Three of the top 10 qualifiers are still looking for their first win of the season: Tony Stewart (starts fourth), Clint Bowyer (eighth) and Kasey Kahne (10th). Also looking for his first win, after earning a series-high seven wins last season, is Matt Kenseth (qualified 15th).
* Morgan Shepherd, 72, qualified last and will take the green flag for Sunday’s race.
* Daytona winner Aric Almirola qualified 19th.
* Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled in qualifying, the only Hendrick Motorsports driver who failed to make it in the top 11. Earnhardt will start Sunday’s race from the 28th position.
* Rookie Kyle Larson was among the fastest drivers in practice, but failed to advance to the second and final qualifying session. He’ll start 13th.
“A little bit disappointed,” Larson told Fox Sports 1. “Oh well, we tried hard. This car has speed in it. We were pretty fast in practice. All in all, it’s a successful day for us, except for not making the final round. But we can still win the race from 13th place.”
* Carl Edwards will start 14th, just barely missing the top 12 in qualifying.
“This place is deceptively difficult,” Edwards told Fox Sports 1. “It’s pretty tough. It’s a simple layout but your car just has to be perfect. It has to hit the seams just right, get off the brakes right, apply the throttle correctly. I guess a couple hundredths more and we’d have been in the final (qualifying) round.”
Here’s the starting grid for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
Row 1 Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson
Row 2 Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart
Row 3 Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano
Row 4 Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer
Row 5 Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne
Row 6 Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick
Row 7 Kyle Larson, Carl Edwards
Row 8 Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard
Row 10 Aric Almirola, AJ Allmendinger
Row 14 Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Row 20 Michael Annett, Eddie McDonald
Row 22 Morgan Shepherd
Did not qualify: none
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