For the first time in nearly two years, Brad Keselowski will lead the field to the green flag in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
Keselowski was the 33rd of 37 drivers to make a qualifying attempt at New Hampshire, and the No. 2 Penske Ford driver knocked Kyle Busch off the pole with a lap of 136.384 mph (27.927 seconds) — his first pole since Michigan in August 2017 and fourth at New Hampshire. Overall, it is the 15th pole of Keselowski’s Cup Series career.
“It definitely surprised me,” Keselowski said after clocking his fast time on the first of two laps. “It’s been a while since we had a pole. We’ve had really good cars, but haven’t always been able to make the most of them with the driver qualifying. So it’s nice to get one here in Loudon with the Alliance Truck Parts Ford.”
Busch will start second after putting down a lap of 136.311 mph. The rest of the top five were Kurt Busch (136.238 mph), Erik Jones (136.189 mph), and Ryan Blaney (136.116 mph).
Filling out the top 10 were Martin Truex Jr. (136.082 mph), Matt DiBenedetto (135.990 mph), Joey Logano (135.893 mph), Aric Almirola (135.883 mph), and Jimmie Johnson (135.844 mph).
Defending race winner Kevin Harvick will start 14th, clocking in at 135.496 mph.
Denny Hamlin qualified 23rd at 133.962 mph and Ryan Newman was 26th at 133.189 mph. However, both will move to the rear of the field for the start of Sunday’s race due to being in backup cars. Hamlin spun in Turn 3 during practice and Newman also hit the Turn 3 wall a few minutes later.
Alex Bowman did not complete a qualifying lap after losing the driveshaft in his Chevrolet. He, too, will be in a backup car and coming from the rear of the field.
NASCAR ejected Darin Nestlerode, the car chief of Daniel Hemric’s No. 8 Chevrolet, after the car failed pre-qualifying inspection twice.
UP NEXT: Second practice at 10:05 a.m. ET Saturday.