Date: Sept. 25, 2015
Event: Sylvania 300 Qualifying (Round 28 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 (27.604 seconds at 137.980 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kevin Harvick (2nd, 27.631 seconds at 137.845 mph)
Kurt Busch (3rd, 27.640 seconds at 137.800 mph)
Danica Patrick (22nd, 28.016 seconds at 135.951 mph)
Tony Stewart (27th, 28.078 seconds at 135.651 mph)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 ditech Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon by setting the second-fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Harvick turned a lap of 27.631 seconds at 137.845 mph on the 1.058-mile oval in the final qualifying round to earn his eighth front-row starting spot of the season.
“It’s been a good day for us. To have speed in our ditech Chevrolet and go out and back it up in qualifying was what we needed to do,” said Harvick, who won at New Hampshire in September 2006. “I felt like I probably left those few hundredths of a second just not being aggressive enough on the exit of turn two considering how good the car was off of turn four. It’s just hard to balance that here because if you push the car too much, you wind up giving up two or three tenths instead of two or three hundredths. It’s definitely a fine balance. Definitely could’ve been a little more aggressive in turn two.”
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.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified third with a time of 27.640 seconds at 137.800 mph.
“We were pretty good right off the truck with our Haas Automation Chevy today,” said Busch, who is a three-time Sprint Cup winner at New Hampshire (July 2004, September 2004 and June 2008). “Everyone – at the track and back at the shop – pulled together to get this thing ready this weekend to support Tony Gibson (crew chief) who had his appendix out this week. I really wanted to get the pole for him today, but I just couldn’t get the right front to stick to the track in that final round. It’s a good starting spot, so we’ll try to get the win on Sunday.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 22nd with a time of 28.016 seconds at 135.951 mph.
“The GoDaddy Chevy was loose off the brakes and snug on the throttle in the first round of qualifying,” said Patrick, who will make her sixth Sprint Cup start at New Hampshire Sunday. “The car was just too loose when we went back out in the second round and we weren’t able to make up much ground on the second attempt.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Code 3 Associates/ Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 27th with a time of 28.078 seconds at 135.651 mph.
“We were decent in practice when it came to long runs, but that didn’t translate 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 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevy ready for Sunday.”
Carl Edwards led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 27.604 seconds at 137.980 mph. It was his 16th career Sprint Cup pole, his third of the season and his second at New Hampshire.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
The Sylvania 300 gets underway at 2 p.m. EDT Sunday with live coverage provided by NBCSN.