Happy New Hampshire polesitter Kyle Busch - NASCAR photoEnlarge Photo
Kyle Busch hasn't had a lot of success at New Hampshire Motor Speedway since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series went to the new car, but unloaded "with a really, really good race car" and led pre-qualifying practice. Being the final driver to take timed laps on the one-mile oval because of his quick practice speed, Busch needed a single lap to take pole position for Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 Sprint Cup race in his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry.
Busch edged Kasey Kahne's No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevy by posting 133.417 mph to Kahn'e 144.403, which amounted to a difference of .003 seconds (Busch ran 28.548 while Kahne's time was 28.551). This is the Las Vegas native's first Coors Light pole position of the season, first in New Hampshire and ninth of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career.
He credited his crew led by Dave Rogers, crew chief. "Everyone has been working hard over the winter trying to figure out what we needed at these flatter, shorter tracks like this one here at Loudon--we struggle here," Busch said. While the start of his single lap wasn't anywhere near pole position, Busch picked it up in the final two turns to push Kahne back to second. "I thought I missed it a little bit; it was decent, it was a good lap for us but I thought I was probably going to be third or fourth."
It looked like he came closer than close to the wall as he sped toward start/finish, but Busch didn't think he touched the wall. "I didn't feel it, so if anything it was really, really close," he said. "I just know that I got in the throttle really early in [turns] three and four trying to make speed and was able to finish it, but the car slipped right at the last second… slid out right to the cushion part, you would say. There's no mark on the car so all is good there."
Kahne, in his first year working with the vaunted Hendrick team was pleased with his qualifying run. "The car has been good in practice and was great right there. I was right on the edge the whole lap of being just a little too free, but I was able to make it work," he said. "I tried getting on more lap, which it didn't seem like anybody was going faster the second lap, but I still tried and got too loose there and just pulled it in. It was still a solid lap; it was really close. As far as the times" he admitted, "everybody is really close, but I'm glad my car feels great."
Denny Hamlin brought the No. 11 FedEx Office Camry in third with Martin Truex Jr in the No. 56 NAPA Batteries Camry fourth and Clint Bowyer's No. 15 5-Hour Energy Camry fifth, giving Toyota all but one of the top five cars. Ryan Newman's No. 39 Aspen Dental Chevrolet qualified sixth, Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Lowe's Chevy seventh, teammate Jeff Gordn's Pepsi Max Chevy eighth, Dale Earnhardt Jr rounded out the Hendrick cars in ninth with his National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevy and Tony Stewart, reigning Sprint Cup Series champion completed the top 10.
Greg Biffle was the top Ford runner, placing his No. 16 3M Fusion; the top Dodge driver is Brad Keselowski, bringing the No. 2 Miller Lite Cup car to 22nd grid spot, while Sam Hornish Jr took the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil AAA Dodge to a credible 24th in his second drive in relief of AJ Allmendinger, who is currently on suspension. With 44 qualifiers, only Mike Bliss went home.
Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH is scheduled to take the green flags shortly after 1PM and is telecast by TNT. While it's been warm and sunny today, there have been some showers forecast.