Kyle Busch continued his dominance in Monster Energy Cup Series time trials.
He scored his eighth pole of the season — a record for the 32-year-old driver — and his third-career pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday.
Busch topped the speed chart with a lap of 135.049mph, bumping Kyle Larson from the provisional pole. He leads the Cup tours in poles for 2017.
“I didn’t hear the time the 42 had, I just gave it what I had,” Busch said. “It’s been fun to have fast cars on Friday and fast cars throughout the weekend. We just haven’t been able to close the deal."
Larson ended up second followed by Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson.
Kahne was the first driver on the track for the third round. He established the pace with a lap of 133.966mph on his first run. Kevin Harvick topped Kahne with a lap of 134.108mph.
With two minutes, 40 seconds remaining, Kyle Larson made his first run. He ran 134.911mph for the provisional pole. Kyle Busch bumped him with a lap of 135.049mph. Ryan Blaney was third — 134.720mph.
With less than a minute on the clock, Kurt Busch’s first lap was seventh quick, but improved one position to sixth. Denny Hamlin topped him with a lap of 134.763mph, which held up for third. Truex was next on the track and ran fifth — 134.188mph.
“There was no way,” Kenseth said after posting a lap of 133.689mph, which held up for 10th.
Ryan Blaney blasted to the top of the speed chart in Round 2 with a lap of 134.753mph.
Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth (134.075mph), Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones and Jimmie Johnson all advanced to the final round.
Once again, Kahne cruised out for the first lap on the track and set a pace of 134.473mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second (133.333mph) followed by Austin Dillon (132.379mph).
With eight minutes remaining in the 10-minute session, Harvick made his first attempt in the second round. He was second-quick (133.759mph). Harvick made another attempt and improved to 134.004mph. Denny Hamlin moved to third of five drivers (133.670mph).
Larson jumped to first with a lap of 134.648mph at the six-minute mark, but Hamlin vaulted to first on his second lap — 134.701mph.
Erik Jones was sixth-quick (133.797mph) on his first run but was bumped by Jamie McMurray (fifth, 134.037mph) and Kurt Busch (sixth, 134.018mph) with five minutes to go. Ryan Blaney took over first on his second lap (134.753mph).
Truex posted the fifth-fastest lap (134.193mph) with four minutes remaining. Kyle Busch struggled through Turn 4 on his first run (126.471mph) then made a second attempt and captured sixth (134.136mph).
Earnhardt (15th), Austin Dillon (17th) and AJ Allmendinger (21st) made last minute runs but none of the drivers advanced to the final round. Other playoff drivers not advancing included Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Ryan Newman.
All 16 playoff contenders moved on to Round 2 on Friday with Kyle Busch leading the way with a lap of 134.544mph.
Jimmie Johnson was second followed by Jamie McMurray — both who ran the identical time — 133.633mph with Hendrick engines. Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr., rounded out the top 12 times.
Kahne was the first driver to make a qualifying attempt. He posted a speed of 130.336mph. Cody Ware was second out (124.634mph). Trevor Bayne topped Ware with a lap of 132.177mph.
Brett Moffitt headed out with just over 15 minutes on the clock. He was third after his second lap (128.602mph). Chris Buescher’s lap of 131.569mph was initially third quick of eight drivers. He moved up to second with his second lap of 132.452mph. Austin Dillon joined time trials with the fourth fastest lap — 131.633mph, then moved up to P2 with his second lap (132.577mph).
With 12 minutes on the clock, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski entered the track. The No. 2 ran 131.760 on his first lap (fifth), then bumped Dillon for second (132.605mph). Harvick’s first lap was fourth (132.471mph), with his second run he topped the board (133.399mph).
At the 10-minute mark, Aric Almirola posted the seventh-fastest lap (131.820mph) but was knocked down by Erik Jones who was third on his first laps and second on his following run (133.385mph). Kurt Busch posted the fourth fastest lap on his third lap — 133.072mph. Moments later, Kyle Larson vaulted to P1 with a lap of 133.530mph on his first lap.
Eight minutes in, Dale Earnhardt Jr. jumped to second on the board with a lap of 133.413mph on his second lap. Harvick dropped to third followed by Jones and Denny Hamlin (133.371mph). Jamie McMurray made his first run with seven minutes on the clock. He bumped his teammate with a speed of 133.363 mph on his second lap.
“When I get on the brakes, I’m definitely free,” McMurray said. “There’s nothing to gain in the middle,”
With five laps remaining, 31 cars had posted times. McMurray was fastest followed by Larson, Earnhardt, Harvick, Jones, Hamlin, Kahne, Clint Bowyer (133.231mph), Blaney (133.212mph) and Truex (133.152mph).
Ryan Newman made his first run with less than four minutes to go. He was 12th quick — 133.045mph. Jimmie Johnson jumped to P1 (133.633mph) after clearing inspection with his backup car with three minutes on the clock. A minute later, Kyle Busch vaulted to the top spot with a lap of 134.544mph on his second lap.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Chase Elliott made last dash attempts to move to the next round. Elliott moved up to 18th (132.665mph). Stenhouse also advanced with the 24th and final time —132.466mph. Although his time tied Daniel Suarez, Stenhouse moved on based on points.
Joey Logano was missing in action — or inspection — and never completed a qualifying attempt.
|5||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||28.384||0.181||134.188|
|15||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||28.566||0.363||133.333|
|24||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||28.936||0.733||131.628|