By AMANDA VINCENT
Carl Edwards made a 28.179-second/135.164 mph lap around New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon during the third and final round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying on Friday to claim the pole for Sunday’s 5-hour Energy 301.
“I’ve struggled at this track, so this is big for me, personally,” Edwards said.
It’s not only his first pole of the 2015 season, so far, it’s also his first start inside the top-10.
Edwards will share the front row with Logano, who qualified second. Unlike Edwards, Logano is used to starting near the front in 2015, as Sunday’s second-place start will be his 13th of the season. Logano was fastest in the second round of qualifying with a 28.12-second/135.448 mph lap, the fastest lap turned throughout the qualifying session.
“Second. It seems like the story of our week, here, coming off Kentucky with a strong second-place run and then qualifying second here as well,” Logano said. “Not that I’m complaining about it, but it’s not much fun finishing second, being so close to getting trophies and pole flags and all the fun stuff.”
Ryan Blaney, after failing to make the last two races at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway when qualifying was cancelled at both tracks, turned in the fastest lap in the opening round of qualifying with a time of 28.345 seconds (134.373 mph). Blaney, though, only managed the 16th-fastest lap in round two, and therefore, failed to get to the final round to battle for the pole. He’ll start 16th Sunday.
“We definitely got a lot tighter the second round for some reason. I’m not sure why,” Blaney said. “I thought our SKF Ford Fusion was really, really good in the first session, obviously, with being the fast time. In the second one, on both laps, we were just really too tight and couldn’t get the front end to do anything, so we’ll go back and try to figure it out on why we lacked a lot of grip the second run.”
David Ragan and Kyle Busch were third and fourth in round three, claiming the second-row spots on the race’s starting grid. Denny Hamlin qualified fifth, giving Toyota four spots inside the top-five. More specifically, Joe Gibbs Racing took three of the top-five spots, courtesy of Edwards, Busch and Hamlin. Logano, a Ford driver, was the only non-Toyota driver to qualify inside the top-five.
“Everybody at JGR has been workingn so hard,” Edwards said. “These Toyotas are fast.”
Forty-four drivers made qualifying attempts for the 43 available spots. Reed Sorenson, in his second week behind the wheel of the No. 62 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet, was the one driver failing to make the race.
Here is the complete starting grid for the 5-hour Energy 301:
Row 1: Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 2: David Ragan (No. 55 Toyota), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 3: Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet)
Row 4: Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 5: Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 6: Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet)
Row 7: Landon Cassill (No. 40 Chevrolet), Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford)
Row 8: Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Chevrolet), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 9: Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota)
Row 10: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet)
Row 11: Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 12: Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 13: Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 14: Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 9 Ford), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 15: Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Justin Allgaier (NO. 51 Chevrolet)
Row 16: Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 17: Cole Whitt (No. 35 Ford), Brett Moffitt (No. 34 Ford)
Row 18: Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota), Jeb Burton (No. 26 Toyota)
Row 19: David Gilliland (No. 38 Ford), Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet)
Row 20: J.J. Yeley (No. 23 Toyota), Alex Bowman (No. 7 Chevrolet)
Row 21: Eddie MacDonald (No. 32 Ford), Derek White (No. 33 Chevrolet)
Row 22: Timmy Hill (No. 98 Ford)
DNQ (did not qualify): Reed Sorenson
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