Kyle Busch make a lap around New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in 27.574 seconds for an average speed of 138.130 mph on Friday in the second of two rounds of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying to set a new track record and claim the pole starting spot for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301.
“I gave it everything I had,” Busch said. “I thought I was a little too tight, but I guess I was driving through it enough that I still got some good speed and got the throttle down on both ends. Lap felt good, and I thought it was going to be a solid top-four.”
Busch will be joined on the front row by Jimmie Johnson. Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin, qualified third and Tony Stewart was fourth in the final round to claim the second-row spot next to Hamlin.
“It’s so tough to get a good lap around here,” Johnson said. “The first outing, put up a decent time, fastest of the day for ourselves. Still knew that we had to go faster and to come out for the second session on older tires and improve by over two tenths is something to be proud of. Of course we want to get the pole, want to be faster, but Kyle found a little bit more out there than us.”
Hamlin led the way in the first round of qualifying with a lap time of 27.762 seconds (137.195 mph), following by the Team Penske duo of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. When the second round of qualifying rolled around, though, Logano and Keselowski wound up sixth and seventh.
“We will take it,” Logano ssaid. “I kind of feel like I hurt our team a little when I messed up my first qualifying run locking up the left front into three, and I went way up the race track and had to make the second run. I don’t think the third run was any better with tires. Knowint that, it frustrates me.”
Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five in qualifying.
Also advancing to the second round and claiming spots eighth through 12th on the starting grid for Sunday’s race were Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick.
Forty-three drivers, the exact number needed for a full race field, made qualifying attempts in the first round, so all who attempted to qualify made the race, including Morgan Shepherd, who will make his second Sprint Cup start of the season and will break his own record of being the oldest driver to start a Cup race at the age of 72 years, nine months and one day. Shepherd will start 43rd.
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