Kurt Busch tops Martin Truex Jr. for New Hampshire pole
The only Stewart-Haas Racing driver to make the final round of qualifying – Kurt Busch – won the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
With three of his teammates eliminated in Round 2, Kurt Busch was able to bolt to the top of the leaderboard in the final round to win the pole for Sunday’s Foxwoods Casino 301.
It’s the third pole for the season for Busch and 25th is his career. It’s also Busch’s second pole in the last six races.
“Thank you guys, good work,” Busch said over his team radio after completing his lap.
Busch’s lap of 133.591 mph just edged Martin Truex Jr. (133.502 mph) while younger brother Kyle Busch – who was fastest in the first two rounds – ended up third (133.431 mph).
“It’s a track that has been pretty good to me since I started racing in the top series of this sport. I raced there for the first time in the Truck Series and won that race," Busch said of New Hampshire.
"Then, it’s a track where I have three wins in the Cup cars and, when you’re able to go to a track where you’ve had that kind of success, it just gives you confidence.
"Because of the wins and everything, it’s a place we go to where I feel like I especially know what it takes from the car and the driver to be successful.”
Denny Hamlin was fourth and Ryan Blaney completed the top-five.
Rounding out the Top 12 starters are Brad Keselowski, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Paul Menard.
Kyle Busch led a Toyota sweep of the top-five positions in the second round with an average lap speed of 133.656 mph.
Suarez ended up second (133.544 mph) and Truex was third (133.441 mph). Jones and Hamlin completed the top-five.
Also advancing to the final round were Kurt Busch, Blaney, Elliott, Byron, Bowman, Keselowski and Menard.
Kurt Busch was the top Ford while Elliott was the top-performing Chevrolet.
“I didn’t see us picking up on the second lap because of the tightness,” Kurt Busch told his crew chief, Billy Scott, after his qualifying attempt.
Among those who failed to advance to the final round were three Stewart-Haas Racing drivers – Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer; Joey Logano; Kyle Larson; and Jimmie Johnson.
Kyle Busch, who was fastest in Friday’s lone practice session, led the way in the first round in which a majority of cars waited until the final five minutes to make their qualifying attempts.
Busch’s lap at 133.114 mph just edged Bowman (133.068 mph) and Byron (132.831 mph). Kurt Busch and Truex completed the top-five.
Completing the top 10 were Suarez, Almirola, Harvick, Hamlin and Blaney.
“That was definitely a cluster,” Harvick said over his team radio regarding the mass of cars waiting until the last minute to make qualifying runs.
Among those who failed to advance to the second round were Ty Dillon, Chris Buescher, Kasey Kahne, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Matt Kenseth.
It was more than three minutes into the 15-minute session before the first driver, Michael McDowell, got on the track and took a lap.
Only eight cars had taken a speed with five minutes left in the session.
All cars cleared inspection prior to the start of Round 1.
|2||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||28.530||0.019||133.502|
|23||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||28.976||0.465||131.447|
|27||43||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Chevrolet||29.106||0.595||130.860|
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Start of Sunday's Cup race at New Hampshire moved up an hour