Busch sets track mark at New Hampshire
LOUDON, N.H. -- Kyle Busch went from upside down to top of the field.
Busch continued the season-long trend of track record qualifying speeds, turning a lap of 138.130 mph Friday to win the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
It’s the second pole of the season for Busch, who will be joined on the front row by reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race.
Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray completed the top five.
Points leader Jeff Gordon starts 11th. Daytona winner Aric Almirola starts 19th.
Busch starts first a week after he rolled over at Daytona. He was involved in a 25-car wreck that ended with Busch getting flipped upside-down in his No. 18 Toyota.
"I thought it was a little bit tight but I guess I was driving through it enough that it was still carrying good speed," Busch said. "Lap felt good. It didn’t feel that good, but it felt good."
It was the 13th track record set this season.
"We knew the track record was going to fall, especially at one of the places where testing started," Johnson said. "I was very optimistic coming into qualifying today. I thought I had enough to get it there. Then I saw Kyle’s lap. He definitely put one down."
Busch had a pair of runner-up finishes last season at New Hampshire. He has one career win at the track.
The 72-year-old Morgan Shepherd made the race when a 44th entry dropped out, putting him in the field. In the No. 33 Chevrolet, he’ll extend his mark as the oldest driver to start a race in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series.
He made his Cup debut in 1970 and won four times in NASCAR’s top series. He finished as high as fifth in the final standings in 1990 and hadn’t started a Cup race since 2006. He last ran a full season in 1996.
Jim Fitzgerald was 65 when he raced in the 1987 Cup race at Riverside International Raceway. James Hylton is the oldest driver to start a NASCAR race. He was 76 for the 2011 Truck Series race at Pocono.
NASCAR has no age limit. Shepherd finished 43rd at Phoenix in his only other race of the season.
Joey Logano qualified sixth in his backup No. 22 Ford following an accident in practice.
"For a backup car and making two laps on it before qualifying, I am proud of where we ended up," he said. "I just wanted more."
Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski starts seventh.
"That sure is neat to see, for sure," he said. "We joke about it all the time that we end up qualifying right next to each other. The consistency of the cars is amazing and it shows where we are at with drivers too."
Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., and Kasey Kahne round out the top 10.
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