Busch squeaks past Kahne and Hamlin for NHMS pole

[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.”

American Muscle

“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.”


Starting Lineup
LENOX Industrial Tools 301, New Hampshire
Pos. No. Driver Make Speed Time
1 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 133.417 28.548
2 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 133.403 28.551
3 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 133.399 28.552
4 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 133.338 28.565
5 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 133.319 28.569
6 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 133.277 28.578
7 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 133.254 28.583
8 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 133.198 28.595
9 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 133.045 28.628
10 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 132.938 28.651
11 16 Greg Biffle Ford 132.873 28.665
12 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 132.868 28.666
13 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 132.572 28.73
14 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 132.549 28.735
15 55 Brian Vickers Toyota 132.425 28.762
16 20 Joey Logano Toyota 132.425 28.762
17 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet 132.393 28.769
18 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 132.333 28.782
19 34 David Ragan Ford 132.264 28.797
20 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 132.2 28.811
21 99 Carl Edwards Ford 132.186 28.814
22 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge 132.085 28.836
23 43 Aric Almirola Ford 131.833 28.891
24 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge 131.556 28.952
25 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 131.465 28.972
26 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet 131.266 29.016
27 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 131.234 29.023
28 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 131.234 29.023
29 83 Landon Cassill Toyota 131.184 29.034
30 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota 130.833 29.112
31 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet 130.662 29.15
32 26 Josh Wise* Ford 130.14 29.267
33 13 Casey Mears Ford 129.834 29.336
34 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 129.807 29.342
35 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 129.679 29.371
36 98 Michael McDowell Ford 129.525 29.406
37 32 Ken Schrader Ford 129.318 29.453
38 249 J.J. Yeley Toyota 129.274 29.463
39 38 David Gilliland Ford 129.156 29.49
40 30 David Stremme Toyota 129.094 29.504
41 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet 128.863 29.557
42 179 Kelly Bires Ford 128.515 29.637
43 33 Stephen Leicht* Chevrolet 128.182 29.714

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.


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