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NASCAR Cup: Martin Truex Jr. on pole at New Hampshire after Kyle Larson fails inspection

Martin Truex Jr. (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Martin Truex Jr. (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Qualifying issues continue to plague Kyle Larson and his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team. After starting in the back for the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta on July 8 because of a problem getting through pre-qualifying inspection and having his second-place finish deemed “encumbered” by NASCAR because of a failed post-race inspection, Larson will start in the back for the second-consecutive week Sunday int he Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, despite being the frontrunner all day on Friday. He was the fastest in the day’s lone practice session and his lap times were tops in all three rounds of qualifying, but his car failed, yet, another inspection after qualifying because of an unapproved rear deck fin. As a result, his qualifying times were disallowed, moving the momentary pole sitter to the back.

With Larson shuffled to the back, Martin Truex Jr. moved over from second to take his first pole of 2017. Truex’s 26.621-second/133.077 mph third-round lap became the pole-winning lap of record and garnered the driver his first pole of the season after several second-place starts.

“Not the way we wanted to get our first pole of the year, but looking forward to starting up front and having a good pit selection,” Truex said.

Truex was in the bottom of the top-20 in the opening round of qualifying, but improved to the top-five in round two before being second to Larson int he final round.

With Truex moving over to take the pole, Jimmie Johsnon moved up to second for the other front-row starting spot. Everyone else also moved up one position on the starting grid, shuffling Larson back to a 39th (last). That spot, originally, went to Josh Bilicki for his second-career Cup Series start.

Bilicki, though, held the top position on the scoring pylon for several minutes at the start of the three-round qualifying session when nearly everyone else opted to, first, make slow half-laps in attempts to get speed in the tires. Most of the series regulars waited until more than eight minutes into the 20-minute opening round to post timed qualifying attempts. When they began their qualifying attempts, Bilicki quickly got shuffled to the back.

Toyota and Chevrolet drivers dominated the front portion of the starting grid, with Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski being the fastest Ford qualifiers, winding up in the fifth row. Ford driver Aric Almirola qualified 21st for his first race upon his return from a back injury sustained at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City in May.

Friday’s qualifying session got off to somewhat of a slow start, as David Ragan spun and kicked grass and dirt up onto the racing surface, resulting in a red flag for track clean-up.

Here’s a look at the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

Row 1 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 2 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Erik Jones (No. 77 Toyota)
Row 4 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 5 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Ford), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 6 — Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Ford)
Row 7 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 8 — Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 32 Ford)
Row 9 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Ford), Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Chris Buescher (No. 37 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Landon Cassill (No. 34 Ford)
Row 15 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Ford)
Row 16 — Corey LaJoie (No. 23 Toyota), David Ragan (No. 38 Ford)
Row 17 Cole Whitt (No. 72 Chevrolet), Gray Gaulding (No. 55 Toyota)
Row 18 — Reed Sorenson (No. 15 Chevrolet), Ryan Sieg (No. 83 Toyota)
Row 19 — Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 33 Chevrolet), Josh Bilicki (No. 51 Chevrolet)
Row 20 — Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (Facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (Facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on July 15, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,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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