Keselowski wins Busch Pole in Loudon qualifying

Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski put a decisive end to his qualifying drought Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, edging Kyle Busch for the top starting spot in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301.

Fastest on the first of his two laps in time trials, Keselowski beat Busch by .015 seconds, covering the one-mile distance in 27.927 seconds (136.384 mph). Busch clocked in at 136.311 mph.

The Busch Pole Award was Keselowski’s fourth at the “Magic Mile" and his first there since the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford set the track qualifying record in 2014 (20.090 seconds at 140.598 mph). After 11 of his 14 previous career pole runs, Keselowski has finished in the top 10, including two victories. His only victory at Loudon, however, came from the seventh starting position (2014).

“This definitely surprised me," said Keselowski, who last won a pole in the August race at Michigan in 2017. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a pole. We’ve had really good cars but haven’t been able to make the most of it with the driver in qualifying, so it’s nice to get one here in Loudon."

Track position aside, the primary benefit of winning the pole at New Hampshire may well be the selection of pit stall No. 1, closest to the exit from pit road.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]“The first pit stall will be huge for sure," Keselowski said. “This track on pit road has a lot of chaos. I’m not saying you can’t wreck in pit stall No. 1, but it’s a little harder there and it certainly makes life a lot easier for your pit crew. It’s like you’re in the HOV lane (on pit exit)."

Kurt Busch, last Sunday’s winner at Kentucky Speedway, qualified third at 136.238 mph. Erik Jones will start fourth, followed by Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Matt DiBenedetto and two-time Loudon winner Joey Logano in order.

Jones matched his best effort in time trials this season, having also qualified fourth at both Bristol Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway. His No. 20 Toyota showed significant improvement over practice earlier in the day.

“It was kind of a struggle this morning, but actually there (in qualifying) it felt pretty good," Jones said. “Definitely a lot better than what we had in practice. 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 (Saturday’s practice), that’d be a positive."

Alex Bowman, who locked himself into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway, will start last after failing to complete a lap in time trials because of a broken drive shaft and will go to a backup car.

“There was a big boom and something broke," said Bowman, who had begun his first lap before the part failure. “I don’t know. I haven’t looked at the car. Obviously, the drive shaft broke. I don’t know if the gears or the drive shaft went first. It took out a lot of stuff on the way out. There’s oil everywhere. Just part of it.

“I don’t like New Hampshire. I’ve always struggled here. I’m a selfish, biased race car driver, so places I struggle, I don’t like. It’s going to be hot, and certainly we have our work cut out for us starting from the back. But we’ll make it a good day."

Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman qualified 23rd and 26th, respectively, in backup cars after wrecking in practice.

Qualifying Results

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed
1 2 Brad Keselowski Alliance Truck Parts Ford 27.927 136.384
2 18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota 27.942 136.311
3 1 Kurt Busch Monster Energy Chevrolet 27.957 136.238
4 20 Erik Jones STANLEY Toyota 27.967 136.189
5 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Sylvania Ford 27.982 136.116
6 19 Martin Truex Jr Sirius XM Toyota 27.989 136.082
7 95 Matt DiBenedetto Procore Toyota 28.008 135.990
8 22 Joey Logano AAA Insurance Ford 28.028 135.893
9 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 28.030 135.883
10 48 Jimmie Johnson Ally Chevrolet 28.038 135.844
11 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fastenal Ford 28.063 135.723
12 9 Chase Elliott Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet 28.066 135.709
13 41 Daniel Suarez Haas Automation Ford 28.087 135.607
14 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Beer/National Forest Foundation Ford 28.110 135.496
15 42 Kyle Larson McDonald's Chevrolet 28.131 135.395
16 14 Clint Bowyer Toco Warranty/Haas Automation Ford 28.164 135.236
17 21 Paul Menard Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 28.302 134.577
18 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Military Chevrolet 28.303 134.572
19 8 Daniel Hemric # Okuma Chevrolet 28.307 134.553
20 38 David Ragan Compressor World Ford 28.332 134.435
21 3 Austin Dillon BEHR ULTRA Chevrolet 28.367 134.269
22 24 William Byron Liberty University Chevrolet 28.400 134.113
23 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 28.432 133.962
24 34 Michael McDowell Dockside Logistics Ford 28.437 133.938
25 37 Chris Buescher Scott Comfort Plus Chevrolet 28.525 133.525
26 6 Ryan Newman Oscar Mayer/Velveeta Ford 28.597 133.189
27 43 Bubba Wallace Victory Junction Chevrolet 28.618 133.091
28 47 Ryan Preece # Kroger Chevrolet 28.633 133.021
29 32 Corey LaJoie WeirsMotorSales/AdirondackTreeSurg Ford 28.655 132.919
30 36 Matt Tifft # Louis Kemp Crab Delights Ford 28.674 132.831
31 00 Landon Cassill(i) StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 28.848 132.030
32 15 Ross Chastain(i) YVARS Chevrolet 29.116 130.815
33 27 Reed Sorenson VIP Chevrolet 29.405 129.529
34 77 Quin Houff #MyTrackMyRoots Chevrolet 29.561 128.845
35 51 Andy Seuss JACOB COMPANIES Ford 29.669 128.376
36 52 Austin Theriault BANGOR SAVINGS BANK Chevrolet 30.874 123.366
37 88 Alex Bowman Axalta Chevrolet 0.000 0.000

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