After having the two fastest cars in first practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon went out next to last and Denny Hamlin last in qualifying on Friday for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. While both drivers made qualifying laps at the end of the session, their fortunes couldn’t have been much farther apart.
Gordon claimed the pole with a fast lap of 28.232 seconds.
“That was a great lap,” Gordon said. “Started out as kind of a tough day for us in race trim. We were trying some things that weren’t working well for us. We switched over to qualifying trim, and immediately went to second on the board. But even at that, we were quite aways behind the No. 11 (Hamlin).”
Gordon may have felt that he didn’t have much for Hamlin in practice, but a mistake by the No. 11 team in preparation for qualifying resulted in Hamlin winding up 32nd.
“I knew something was wrong. It looked like we just — we ended up having race pressures and we didn’t put our qualifying pressures in, so that was a tough one. I knew something was really, really wrong because we were just — the car was bobbing down real bad — but simple mistake.”
Instead, Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, will start on the front row after turning a 28.265-second lap in qualifying to claim the second starting spot, alongside Gordon.
“That was a pretty good lap from where we were earlier in the day in the M&Ms Camry,” Busch said. “(Crew chief) Dave (Rogers) and the guys did a really good job making good changes to it to make it pick up speed.”
After the provisional pole changed hands several times at the beginning of the qualifying session, Busch went out 29th to claim the temporary spot atop the scoring pylon. He held it throughout much of the remainder of the session until Gordon went out near the end to claim the pole for good.
Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers qualified third and fourth to claim second row starting spots. Carl Edwards was fifth.
Forty-seven drivers made qualifying attempts with hopes of garnering one of the 43 spots on the starting grid. Drivers failing to make the race include Scott Riggs, Jason Leffler, Jeff Green and Josh Wise.
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