For the first time in four years and the first time as a Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Martin Truex Jr. will start from the pole in a NASCAR Cup Series race.
Truex laid down the fastest lap (127.113mph; 29.964s) in the final round of qualifying Saturday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It is the 20th pole of his career and second at New Hampshire, but the last time the former series champion last sat on a pole was at Kentucky Speedway in July of 2018.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Truex said. “I’m really just proud of everybody on the team; we’ve had an up and down year, and we’ve been digging and clawing and scratching and fighting. I’m just proud of James [Small, crew chief] and everyone. This track has always been a special one for me, and we certainly didn’t come here expecting to have this kind of speed.
“It’s going to be very difficult to pass. We kind of saw it in practice – I caught a guy and kept slowing down the more he slowed down. Track position will be huge. Our pit crew has really come a long way since the beginning of the year, so we’re really going to need to lean on them tomorrow. But excited about starting up front.”
Truex has never won at New Hampshire. His best finish at the track is third, but he has led 744 laps in 28 starts.
Chase Elliott starts second, locking in a front row starting spot with a lap of 126.922mph.
“I was shocked; I was shocked that we were second,” Elliott said. “And shocked that it held on that long. Those guys ran 70’s in that first round, and I barely ran a flat, so I thought for sure they’d go closer to what they ran that first round.
“I’m really proud of our NAPA team today. It’s not been super pretty, but I feel like we’ve learned a couple of things. At this point, we just have to make sure we make some good decisions overnight. Not saying we have to completely rebuild it, but I do think we need to be a little better, and I need to work on some things on my end to help create some longevity in our car, too. Proud of the effort. Nice to be on the front row and give us a good pit selection. Would love to have that first one if I was being selfish, but second will give us a solid one to choose from, and we’ll go to work all day tomorrow.”
Kurt Busch starts third (126.825mph), Bubba Wallace fourth (126.513mph), and Christopher Bell fifth (126.425mph). William Byron starts sixth (126.387mph), defending race winner Aric Almirola seventh (126.040mph), Kyle Larson eighth (126.019mph), Brad Keselowski ninth (125.252mph), and Kevin Harvick 10th.
Harvick did not complete his qualifying lap. The No. 4 Ford got out of shape coming off Turn 2 and he aborted the lap.
Ryan Blaney starts 11th, Joey Logano 12th, Tyler Reddick 13th, Denny Hamlin 14th, and Michael McDowell 15th. Kyle Busch starts 17th, Alex Bowman starts 27th, Austin Cindric 28th, and Chase Briscoe 29th.
Saturday was a clean day at New Hampshire for the Cup Series with no incidents in practice or qualifying.
UP NEXT: Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire at 3 p.m. Sunday.