SHR’s cars fill top four start­ing spots

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS - BY JENNA FRYER

TAL­LADEGA, Ala. — Kurt Busch led a Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing sweep to put all four of the com­pany cars up front at Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way for to­day’s NASCAR Cup Se­ries play­off race at the trou­ble­some track.

Busch turned a lap at 195.804 mph to qual­ify in the top spot. He edged team­mate Clint Bowyer, who qual­i­fied sec­ond, ahead of Kevin Har­vick and Aric Almirola as the Ford horse­power built by Doug Yates’ en­gine shop proved su­pe­rior.

“Four Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing Fords up front, I’m just happy I had the fastest one,” said Busch, who will start on the pole at Tal­ladega for the first time.

All four SHR driv­ers are still part of the 12-driver cham­pi­onship field, which will be trimmed by four af­ter next week­end’s race at Kan­sas Speed­way. Almirola and Bowyer are tied for ninth in the play­off stand­ings, barely hold­ing on to trans­fer po­si­tions.

Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports had the next-fastest fleet as the Chevro­lets driven by Chase El­liott, Jim­mie John­son, Alex Bowman and Wil­liam By­ron qual­i­fied in slots five through eight.

“All four guys in the top 12 is a strong show­ing for us,” By­ron said. “Qual­i­fy­ing doesn’t re­flect to­tally on how things will shake out Sun­day and how you are go­ing to race. But it should be fine. With the four of us to­gether at the start, we have an op­por­tu­nity to stay in front of some of the pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tions.”

The Toy­ota group fol­lowed as Joe Gibbs Rac­ing team­mates Kyle Busch and Denny Ham­lin qual­i­fied ninth and 10th, fol­lowed by reign­ing Cup Se­ries cham­pion Martin Truex Jr.

The re­main­ing four play­off driv­ers were Brad Ke­selowski, who qual­i­fied 18th, Ryan Blaney (19th), Joey Logano (20th) and Kyle Larson (34th).

Trucks: Peters wins

Tim­o­thy Peters bumped leader Noah Grag­son out of his way on the fi­nal lap, then blocked traf­fic for the fi­nal mile to win Satur­day’s Camp­ing World Truck Se­ries race at Tal­ladega.

It was the 11th se­ries vic­tory of Peters’ ca­reer and his third at Tal­ladega, the most wins at the Alabama track among truck driv­ers.

“If I kept my head on straight, I knew I had a chance to win,” said Peters, who at 38 years old has been rel­e­gated to a par­tial sched­ule.

“I wish my phone would ring a lit­tle more fre­quently,” said Peters, who thanked GMS Rac­ing for the three-race deal that put him back into vic­tory lane for the first time since 2015.

Peters didn’t lead un­til the fi­nal lap of the crash-packed play­off race. He had to force Grag­son out of his way to get to the front.

My­att Snider wound up sec­ond and David Gilliland third.

Ste­wart Friesen and Ben Rhodes were elim­i­nated from the play­off field. The six driv­ers still in ti­tle con­tention are Grag­son, Matt Crafton, Grant En­fin­ger, Justin Ha­ley, Brett Mof­fitt and Johnny Sauter.

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