NASCAR Cup: Carl Edwards on pole at Loudon
Carl Edwards celebrates winning rhe pole for the Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 23, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Carl Edwards set a new personal record on Friday, claiming his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of the 2016 season to double his previous season-best tally. A 28.119-second/135.453 mph lap in the third of three rounds of qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Friday gave Edwards his latest top starting spot for Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300.
“I’d say that the way JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) operates and the way that we can look at and share information between the drivers and the crews, I’d say that helps a lot,” Edwards said. “It makes the weekend usually get off to a pretty fast start, and then during qualifying, this year specifically, Dave Rogers (crew chief) has been scared of nothing. He’ll make any adjustment at any time. If he thinks it’s faster, he’ll do it, and that’s hard to do when you’ve got a pretty fast car to start adjusting it, so I think Dave’s really, probably the biggest reason.”
Martin Truex Jr. claimed the second starting spot to give Toyota a front-row sweep.
“It was good,” Truex said. “We had a good qualifying run, just a good day, really, in general. A lot better than the last time we were here and got some momentum, obviously, and I thought it all went well. We had a shot at it [the pole] there and just slipped a little bit in the middle of [turns] one and two and lost it — just a hair of time — but all in all, a good effort.”
Edwards and Truex took turns atop the scoring pylon in the three-round qualifying session, with Edwards posting the fastest lap in the opening round and Truex leading the way in round two. Edwards’ 28.075-second/135.665 mph lap in round one was the fastest lap, overall, over the course of qualifying.
“Not a lot actually translates from qualifying to the race except that 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. It’s nice to know the — we’ve got enough horsepower, and we’ve got enough downforce and we’re figured out some setup that can run that fast lap, so that confidence is the biggest thing.”
Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin claimed the other top-five starting positions.
Newman was one of two non-Chasers to advance to the final round of qualifying to make a bid for the pole, the other being Kasey Kahne. Kahne qualified ninth.
A couple of Chase drivers failed to advance out of round one. Chris Buescher and Austin Dillon were outside the top-24 at the end of round one, winding up with starting spots 28th and 29th, respectively.
“We’ll just go to work on it,” Dillon said. “We’ll try to figure it out as a team, and we’ll work hard as a team and won’t give up because of qualifying.”
The opening round was even more troublesome for non-Chaser Clint Bowyer. A Bowyer incident brought out the red flag in round one.
Below, is the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
Row 1 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota)
Row 2 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 4 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 5 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 7 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 9 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Alex Bowman (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet), Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — David Ragan (No. 23 Toyota), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Brian Scott (No. 44 Ford), Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford)
Row 14 — Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Chris Buescher (No. 34 Ford)
Row 15 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), Regan Smith (No. 7 Chevrolet)
Row 16 — Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet), Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford)
Row 17 — Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota), Landon Cassill (No. 38 Ford)
Row 18 — Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet), Cole Whitt (No. 98 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Chevrolet), Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Toyota)
Row 20 — Josh Wise (No. 30 Chevrolet), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 32 Ford)