Loudon, N.H. — Carl Edwards has mastered the art of starting first at New Hampshire.
It’s winning the race that has caused him fits.
Edwards turned a lap of 135.453 mph to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He took the top spot Friday for the third time in the last four New Hampshire races and he won his sixth pole of the season.
“We need to turn that into a race win,” Edwards said.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has failed to win in 24 career starts at New Hampshire. Edwards finished seventh and fifth off his two poles last season. Edwards would advance to the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship with a win on Sunday.
He’d rather take the checkered flag in the No. 19 Toyota and not have to worry about taking care of business next week at Dover.
“If we have a bad day here, I’m going to be real upset about it for about three or four days and then if you have a bad day at Dover, you’re going to be upset for the rest of the year,” he said.
Edwards led the way for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship drivers. Martin Truex Jr. followed his Chase win at Chicagoland Speedway with a solid qualifying run to join Edwards on the front row.
Ryan Newman will start third, followed by Chase drivers Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth.
Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills) qualified 11th.
Chase drivers Chris Buescher and Austin Dillon failed to advance out of the first round of qualifying. Fellow Chase drivers Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart failed to get out of the second round.
Edwards won his 22nd career pole. He had never won more than three poles in a season.
“The cars are great, but it’s not just that,” Edwards said.
It’s Toyota. It’s crew chief Dave Rogers. It’s the support of having three stellar teammates in Kenseth, Hamlin and Kyle Busch (who starts 12th).
Kenseth has won the last two New Hampshire races for JGR.
“I became a lot better certainly when I started driving there. It’s funny how that works,” he said.
Here are some other items of note from Friday at New Hampshire.
Delay of game
Inspection issues delayed several cars from taking the track in the first round of qualifying. Nearly a dozen cars were in line at the inspection station once qualifying started. Clint Bowyer spun during his lap to bring out the red flag and buy time for the rest of the cars to complete inspection.
Chris Buescher (28th) and Austin Dillon (29th) have the worst starting spots among Chase drivers. Dillon qualified in a backup car following an accident in practice.
“It’s not the exact same car, it’s a little older car, but same type of car we ran here the first time and we ran pretty solid in that race,” Dillon said. “We will just go out there and drive it hard and see what it gives me.”
Buescher realized that just making the Chase because of a rain-shortened win at Pocono will stand as the highlight of his season.
“We’re playing our own game right now,” he said. “We know that if we come out of here and do the best we can, put in our maximum effort, that’s all we can do.”
Thoughts and prayers
NASCAR drivers have found unsettling the violent protests in Charlotte, North Carolina in the wake of the fatal shooting of a black man by police.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte had its exterior damaged this week during violent protests.
“A lot of times when you see things like this happen it’s in a different city and you don’t recognize where it’s at, but when you see the NASCAR building getting vandalized and you see areas of the city that you know very well with just crazy things happening, it makes you sick to your gut,” Logano said.
Cindric wins first ARCA race
Austin Cindric raced to his first ARCA Racing Series victory Friday night at Kentucky Speedway, holding off Dalton Sargeant in a green-white-checker finish.
Cindric, the 18-year-old son of Team Penske President Tim Cindric, was making his second career start in the series. He drove Cunningham Motorsports’ No. 99 Ford on the 1.5-mile oval.
Matt Tifft was third, followed by Tom Hessert, Matt Kurzejewski, Josh Williams, Bret Holmes, A.J. Fike, Shane Lee and Mark Thompson.
Chase Briscoe missed a chance to wrap up the season title with one race remaining, finishing 22nd after a late accident.
Hight lead Funny Car qualifying
Robert Hight took the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car on Friday in the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Hight pushed his Chevrolet Camaro SS to a 3.893-second pass at 328.38 mph during the second session. He won in Gainesville, Florida, this year and is seventh in the season standings.
“This was a big day for us, but it’s only one day,” said Hight, the 2009 Funny Car season champion.
Australia’s Richie Crampton led the Top Fuel field, Greg Anderson topped the Pro Stock lineup, and Chip Ellis was the fastest in Pro Stock Motorcycle in the second race in the six-event Countdown. Crampton had a 3.733 at 323.50, Anderson ran a 6.607 at 209.30 in a Camaro, and Ellis rode his Buell to a 6.850 at 196.53.