[media-credit name=”Gary Buchanan” align=”alignright” width=”260″][/media-credit]By just 0.003 and 0.004 seconds respectively, Kyle Busch, in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, nudged both Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin out of the way to score the pole for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
This was Busch’s first pole of the 2012 season to date and his first pole in 15 races at the ‘Magic Mile.’
“There hasn’t been a lot of times where I’ve qualified on the pole for 30 or 40 races,” Busch said. “It’s been awhile.”
“Excellent lap,” Busch continued. “I just tried to hit the same marks I did in practice. We picked up a little bit here and a little bit there and that led to the fastest lap.”
While several other competitors had too close encounters with the wall, including Greg Biffle, Busch denied touching the wall during his time trial run as some had suspected.
“I didn’t feel it,” Busch said. “If anything, it was close. I just knew I got in the throttle early to make speed, but the car slipped at the last second and slid out to the cushion point.”
“But there’s no mark on the car.”
Busch was the last out to make his time trial run, however, he absolutely refused to watch any of his competitors take their qualifying laps before him.
“I don’t pay attention to what anyone else is doing,” Busch said. “That screws me up more than it helps me.”
“I didn’t watch anything,” Busch continued. “I just had to put those thoughts out of my mind and make the most of the lap.”
“We haven’t found the magic way to get around the Magic Mile,” Busch said. “So, I think today we did.”
Kasey Kahne, in the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, qualified second, with a time of 28.551 seconds and a speed of 133.403 mph. This was Kahne’s 15th top-15 start of the season and his sixth in 17 races at New Hampshire.
“It felt really good,” Kahne said. “I was right on the edge the whole lap of being free but I was able to make it work.”
“It was a solid lap and really close as far as the times.”
As Kahne said, qualifying was close and right behind him was Denny Hamlin, who qualified his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the third position. Hamlin’s time was 28.552 second, with a speed of 133.399 mph.
This was Hamlin’s fifth top-10 start at the ‘Magic Mile’ and his 10th in 19 races for the 2012 season.
“A lot like Kasey’s, we were really on the edge most of the time,” Hamlin said. “That was pretty much all I had speed-wise.”
“Sure maybe I could have squeezed four thousandths out of it somehow so it’s awful tight up front.”
Martin Truex, Jr., in the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, and Clint Bowyer in the No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota, rounded out the top-five in qualifying.
Other drivers had polar opposite complaints about their qualifying runs.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, complained bitterly that his car was too tight, while new father Kevin Harvick felt his 29 Rheem Chevrolet was too loose.
Dale Junior qualified in the ninth position, while Harvick scored P12 in time trials.
“Our car was a little bit too tight,” Dale Earnhardt, Jr. said. “We erred on the side of being conservative as far as making sure the rear had enough grip.”
“Traditionally, this track gets really slick in qualifying,” Junior continued. “That probably helped us actually put together a decent lap and have a good starting spot.”
“But we could have been a little better if we weren’t quite as tight as we were.”
“We were just a little bit too loose up off the corner,” Harvick said in contrast. “But all in all, it was faster than we ran in practice so that is always a good thing here.”
One of the biggest surprises in the qualifying session was Jeff Burton, who traditionally runs well at New Hampshire. In fact, at one ‘Magic Mile’ race, Burton totally dominated, leading every lap and taking the checkered flag.
“Today has been a struggle,” Burton, who qualified 25th, said. “We were way off in practice and swung for the fences in qualifying trim.”
“We just started off with some problems,” Burton continued. “We had a mechanical issue we found too when practice ended so we fought that for a while and didn’t know we were fighting it.”
“I kind of feel like we might be headed in the right direction now.”
|LENOX Industrial Tools 301, New Hampshire|
|4||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||133.338||28.565|
|9||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||133.045||28.628|
|24||22||Sam Hornish Jr.||Dodge||131.556||28.952|