One thing Carl Edwards seems to have figured out is how to win poles in Loudon New Hampshire. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver put down a lap of 28.119 seconds, 135.453 mph in the third and final round of qualifying Friday and will lead the field to the green for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Edwards ran his lap with less than a minute to go to secure his sixth pole of the season and his third at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the last 4 races and the 22nd of his career. However, Edwards has yet to translate those pole wins into a race win. Edwards, who is among the top 16 in the Chase, has yet to win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His best finish was a second back in 2006. He swept the poles here last year, but could only translate those poles into 7th and 5th place finishes respectively.
“Hopefully we can turn this into a great race,” Edwards said. “This car its built for speed ,and we’ve had speed in qualifying, but we’ve got o turn that into a great race here.”
You got to come away with a trophy,” he added. “This is our opportunity. We’ve got to do it we’ve got the best team in the world to do it with. Man this is fun, a good Friday.”
Ten of the top 12 starters are Chase drivers, while four failed to make the final round, and two didn’t advance out of the first round. Kurt Busch (13), Joey Logano (15), Kevin Harvick (19), and Tony Stewart (22) failed to advance to the final round. Chris Buescher (28) and Austin Dillon (29) failed to move to the second round.
“What didn’t happen is we didn’t go fast enough to make a long story short,” Buescher said. “This fire off speed has been tough on us, especially at Loudon. You look at the last race and it was kind of the same way. Our race speed was OK, and I was happy with that. I feel like we have a car that drives really good in first practice today. We’ve got two practices tomorrow to figure it out. We’ll go into that with plenty of optimism. We’ll keep positive and go pull off something and be ready for the race on Sunday.”
The first round of qualifying was a short one for many drivers as several drivers were delayed in pre-qualifying inspection. NASCAR said many of the teams were “pushing the envelope” for the second race in the Chase. All had gone through at least once prior to the session starting, but several needed a second inspection, including Harvick and Stewart. All but one car made it to the grid with just less than five minutes to go in the first round thanks in part to a short delay when Clint Bowyer spun and stopped the clock with just over 11-minutes to go. Reagan Smith was the final car out with just under two minutes to go in the first round led by Edwards.
Martin Truex Jr., who led the second round will start second, followed by Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.
“Track position is always a big key,” Hamlin said. “Here I think if you have a good car, you can make up positions – you don’t have to have track position – but we see at the end of these races that they end up turning to fuel mileage races where guys don’t pit, so track position will be most critical at the end.”
Kyle Larson who led the lone practice session earlier Friday will start sixth, Jamie McMurray seventh, Matt Kenseth eighth with Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott rounding out the top 10. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch filled out the top 12 drivers who made it to the final round. With 40 entries no team went home. The full qualifying results can be found here, the full lineup here.
“Not a lot actually translates from qualifying to the race except confidence,” Edwards said. “To know that what everybody came here for – 40 guys – and we all went as fast as we could and our car was really fast and that’s nice.
“When I qualify well, it just makes me feel a little more relaxed, a little more confident.”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Bad Boy Off Road 300 will be run Sunday. Live coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network starting at 1:30 p.m. ET with the green flag coming just after 2:00 p.m. ET.