Carl Edwards wins pole at New Hampshire; sixth top spot of season
LOUDON, N.H. (AP) 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.
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.
TOUGH BREAK: Chris Buescher (28th) and Austin Dillon (29th) have the worst starting spots among Chase drivers. Dillon qualified in a back-up 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 the violent protests in Charlotte, North Carolina in the wake of the fatal shooting of a black man by police unsettling.
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.