By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
LOUDON, N.H. – Carl Edwards never had the reputation as a spectacular qualifier – until this year.
On Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Edwards ran 135.453 mph (28.119 seconds) in the money round of knockout qualifying to earn the top start spot in Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
The Coors Light Pole Award was Edwards sixth of the year, doubling his previous single-season best. It was his third at New Hampshire, all coming in the last four races at the Magic Mile, and the 22nd of his career.
Edwards edged fellow Toyota driver and last week’s race winner, Martin Truex Jr. (135.212 mph) for the top starting spot by .05 seconds.
During a qualifying session that started slowly because more than a dozen cars were late to the grid thanks to inspection issues, Chase drivers grabbed 10 of the top 12 starting spots for Sunday’s race.
Non-Chaser Ryan Newman (134.896 mph) qualified third, followed by Jimmie Johnson (134.858 mph) and Denny Hamlin (134.796 mph).
Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray were sixth and seventh, respectively, with Matt Kenseth and non-Chaser Kasey Kahne eighth and ninth. Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch completed the top 12.
“These Toyotas are really fast,” said Edwards, who spent considerable time in qualifying trim earlier in the day. “It’s a fun place to drive when your car’s that good. (Crew chief) Dave (Rogers) made great changes.
“That’s what we needed. We didn’t run well at Chicago (a 15th-place finish). I was very frustrated. So to come here and start on the pole and get great pit stall, hopefully we can turn this into a good race.”
With his sixth pole of the year, Edwards won the Coors Light 6-Pack Award, worth $25,000 to the charity of the driver’s choice.
“Half of it’s going to Speedway Children’s Charities and half to the NASCAR Foundation in honor of Betty Jane France,” Edwards said. “It’s really cool of MillerCoors to do that. It’s going to help a lot of people.”
With a long family history at the track, Truex covets a win at the Magic Mile and was delighted with his front-row starting spot.
“I’ve been after this one a long time,” said Truex, whose father, Martin Truex Sr., raced in both the Busch North and XFINITY Series at NHMS. “I feel like we’ve been close before, and there’s no other track I’d rather win at right now.”
Notes: Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet received its fourth written warning for failure of prequalifying inspection and will have the last choice of pit stalls… The No. 4 Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick, the 2014 series champion, also had inspection issues and qualified 19th after getting to the grid. Harvick is 14th in the standings after a 20th-place run at Chicagoland. The 13th-16th-place drivers will be eliminated from the Chase after the Oct. 1 race at Dover… Truex led the second round of qualifying at 135.236 mph, a session that saw the four fastest drivers all within .010 seconds of each other.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying – Bad Boy Off Road 300
1. (19) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 135.453 mph.
2. (78) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 135.212 mph.
3. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 134.896 mph.
4. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 134.858 mph.
5. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 134.796 mph.
6. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 134.682 mph.
7. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 134.477 mph.
8. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 134.363 mph.
9. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 134.221 mph.
10. (24) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 133.901 mph.
11. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 133.694 mph.
12. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 133.445 mph.
13. (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 134.359 mph.
14. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 134.354 mph.
15. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 134.184 mph.
16. (21) Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 134.108 mph.
17. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 134.032 mph.
18. (88) Alex Bowman(i), Chevrolet, 133.750 mph.
19. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 133.717 mph.
20. (95) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 133.133 mph.
21. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 133.031 mph.
22. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 132.980 mph.
23. (23) David Ragan, Toyota, 132.776 mph.
24. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 131.815 mph.
25. (44) Brian Scott #, Ford, 132.966 mph.
26. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 132.887 mph.
27. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 132.688 mph.
28. (34) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 132.618 mph.
29. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 132.595 mph.
30. (7) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 132.586 mph.
31. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 132.485 mph.
32. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 132.177 mph.
33. (83) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 131.952 mph.
34. (38) Landon Cassill, Ford, 131.624 mph.
35. (46) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 131.528 mph.
36. (98) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 131.510 mph.
37. (15) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 131.031 mph.
38. (55) Reed Sorenson, Toyota, 130.693 mph.
39. (30) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 129.503 mph.
40. (32) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, 127.701 mph.