Ed­wards nabs sixth pole of sea­son

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS -

LOUDON, N.H. >> 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.

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.”

JIM COLE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Carl Ed­wards ac­knowl­edges fans as he walks through the pits af­ter win­ning the pole Fri­day at New Hamp­shire Mo­tor Speed­way.

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