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NASCAR Cup: Brad Keselowski on pole at New Hampshire

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE – JULY 19: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, celebrates with the Pole Award qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 19, 2019 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

With a 27.927-second/136.384 mph lap late in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Friday, Brad Keselowski claimed the pole for Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301. It’s Keselowski’s first Cup Series pole since 2017 but his fourth-career first-place start at NHMS.

“There are some tracks that are less impactful to win the pole than Loudon, N.H., is,” Keselowski said. “Certainly, the restrictor plate tracks come to mind, but that doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy them as much at those tracks and that they don’t mean something to you. They certainly do, but as you look to rank the tracks for where qualifying well matters, this is certainly towards the top. I think probably the only track I can think of where it’s maybe more important would be Martinsville in the fall or the two races we have there in the spring and fall, but we’re happy with that effort. It certainly bodes well for our shot to get those stage wins and, of course, the overall race win come Sunday, but we still have to go earn it. You’re happy for it. You take a breath. You celebrate it, and then, you get your head back down and go to work.”

Kyle Busch will start alongside Keselowski on the front row.

All three manufacturers will be represented in the top-three starting positions for Sunday’s race. Behind Keselowski’s Ford and Busch’s Toyota on the front row will be last weekend’s winner at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kurt Busch’s Chevrolet, starting third.

Kyle Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones held the provisional pole through much of qualifying, going out 10th of the 37 cars making qualifying attempts and remaining atop the scoring pylon until Busch went out 32nd and claimed the provisional top spot. Busch’s time atop the pylon was short-lived, as Keselowski was the next driver in the qualifying order and took the pole.

Jones wound up fourth by the end of the qualifying session.

“Definitely a lot better than what we had in practice,” Jones said. “I missed it a little bit on the lap. It had some more in it; just didn’t hit it right. The Stanley Camry felt good, there, so I think that was the first time all day I’ve had a good feel in the car, and if we can kind of transfer that into tomorrow, that’d be a positive.”

Friday’s qualifying was halted for several minutes of track cleanup after Alex Bowman’s driveshaft broke, spreading fluid on the race track. A significant amount of speedy dry was already on the track because of an incident in NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying earlier in the day.

“There was just a big boom going down the front straightaway, and then, smoke and oil everywhere,” Bowman said. “I just tried to get it off the race track. I parked down there in turns one and two once before, with the car on fire, and the guy with the fire extinguisher, so I’m not friends with turns one and two,  there. It’s just a bummer. I don’t know that we were going to qualify very well with turns one and two being a ‘beach’ right now with all the speedy dry down there, but we were definitely going to start better than last. But, obviously, we’re going to start last now. I’m bummer for my Axalta 88 guys. The race car has been really good all day, but we’ll put a new driveshaft in it and go from there.”

Bowman failed to make a timed lap in qualifying. He’ll start Sunday’s race in the back in a backup car. Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman also will be in the back in backup cars for the start of the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 after incidents in Friday’s lone practice session.

“It’s not as good as the primary. It’s a backup for a reason,” Hamlin said of his backup car. “It’s been in the trailer for a long time, so we’re going to do the best we can with it. Hopefully, execute well and have the right strategy and good track position and try to make something of the weekend.”

Ryan Blaney qualified fifth. Qualifying sixth through 10th were Martin Truex Jr., Matt DiBenedetto, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola and Jimmie Johnson.

Below, is the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

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Posted by on July 20, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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