Event: New Hampshire 301 Qualifying (Round 19 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (1.058-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Carl Edwards of Joe Gibbs Racing (28.179 seconds at 135.164 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kurt Busch (6th, 28.298 seconds at 134.596 mph)
Kevin Harvick (12th, 28.511 seconds at 133.591 mph)
Danica Patrick (20th, 28.541 seconds at 133.450 mph)
Tony Stewart (25th, 28.664 seconds at 132.877 mph)
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon by setting the sixth-fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s New Hampshire 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Busch turned a lap of 28.298 seconds at 134.596 mph on the 1.058-mile oval in the final qualifying round.
“It was a good qualifying session. We advanced to each of the rounds and to make adjustments, we did exactly what we needed to do,” said Busch, who is a three-time Sprint Cup winner at New Hampshire (July 2004, September 2004 and June 2008). “That last run, we had the Haas Automation Chevrolet right on the edge with the front tires and the rear tires. I’d hoped to pick up a little bit on that second lap, but we lost six-hundredths of a second. If we could’ve gained those six hundredths, we’d be starting fourth. It’s tight.”
Qualifying consisted of three rounds. The first was 20 minutes, with every driver on the track vying to set the fastest lap. The 24 fastest drivers from the first round advanced to the second, 10-minute round. The 12 fastest drivers from that session advanced to the final, five-minute round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by speeds in the final round. Positions 13-24 were set by speeds in the second round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance past the first round.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 12th with a time of 28.511 seconds at 133.591 mph.
“Our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser team did a good job today,” said Harvick, who won at New Hampshire in September 2006. “We picked up some from practice and made some good adjustments throughout, but we just got too tight everywhere in the final round.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 20th with a time of 28.541 seconds at 133.450 mph.
“The GoDaddy Chevrolet team made the car better and better with each qualifying run, so that’s definitely a positive to take away from today,” said Patrick, who will make her fifth Sprint Cup start at New Hampshire Sunday. “Anytime you can start ahead of the second pace car, it tends to lead to better results. We have a long list of things we want to try in practice tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll find a few things that will make the car better for Sunday’s race.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 25th with a time of 28.664 seconds at 132.877 mph.
“I thought we’d be better than that given how practice went, but it didn’t seem to translate over to qualifying,” said Stewart, who is a three-time Sprint Cup winner at New Hampshire (July 2000, July 2005 and September 2011). “With two practices tomorrow, we should be able to get our Mobil 1 Chevy ready for Sunday.”
Carl Edwards led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 28.179 seconds at 135.164 mph. It was his 14th career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his first at New Hampshire.
Joey Logano will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 28.209 seconds at 135.021 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were David Ragan, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray and Harvick. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
The New Hampshire 301 gets underway at 1:30 p.m. EDT Sunday with live coverage provided by NBC Sports Network.