By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
When the Chase begins all of our focus switches to those inside the Chase, and we kind of expect them to win everything possible. However Friday Brad Keselowski spoiled qualifying day for “the chasers” in New Hampshire by posting a lap of 133.572 mph.
This marks Keselowski’s first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position, and according to the young Michigan-native, this pole helps legitimize his team heading into next year.
“It’s been a great year on the Nationwide side, leading the points doing things like that, but it’s been really frustrating this year. I don’t don’t feel bad about sharing that.” Keselowski said. “You shouldn’t be happy being 26th in points, and not having a top ten when you’re with an elite team like Penske. So this is a breath of fresh air that legitimizes our team as being able to get up front…”
Clint Bowyer comes into the Chase as the 12th and final seed, yet he was able to knock down the second fastest qualifying time for the Sylvania 300. Tony Stewart will start third followed by Jamie McMurray, and Juan Montoya rounds out the top-five starters for Sunday.
Here is a breakdown of where all of the Chasers will start on Sunday:
1. Denny Hamlin (Starts 22nd)
2. Jimmie Johnson (Starts 25th)
3. Kevin Harvick (Starts 27th)
4. Kyle Busch (Starts 9th)
5. Kurt Busch (Starts 12th)
6. Tony Stewart (Starts 3rd)
7. Greg Biffle (Starts 14th)
8. Jeff Gordon (Starts 17th)
9. Carl Edwards (Starts 10th)
10. Jeff Burton (Starts 13th)
11. Matt Kenseth (Starts 33rd)
12. Clint Bowyer (Starts 2nd)
As you can see it was a mixed bag as far as qualifying results for those inside NASCAR’s playoffs. Carl Edwards explained that this is one of the harder places to qualify, and that he is pleased with his starting spot all things considered.
“I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be on the second lap. Our Aflac Fusion was good. I just didn’t put together the perfect lap. This is one of the toughest places to qualify. I’ve never done that well qualifying here but I think this will be a top-10 and that will be just fine.” Edwards said. “That will be a good start and now we can go work on race trim which is totally different. Long laps are going to be really important.”
Other notable qualifiers on Friday were: A.J. Allmendinger (6th), Martin Truex Jr. (16th), Kasey Kahne (21st), Ryan Newman (24th), Mark Martin (26th), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (32nd).
45 drivers attempted to qualify for the 43 spots available in Sunday’s field, which means two of them unfortunately had to go home. The drivers who missed making the field were Johnny Sauter and Jeff Green.