By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr., 42, earned his first pole position in four seasons, taking the top starting spot in Saturday qualifying with a lap of 127.113 mph at the one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
He’ll start the No. 19 JGR Toyota in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter 301 (3 p.m. ET, USA Network, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) alongside last week’s race winner, Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Truex last started on pole at Kentucky Speedway in 2018 – one of two race wins from pole in the last three times he’s started out front. Another showing like that this week would be key for Truex, who is still racing for his first victory in 2022. His best showing a fourth place at Richmond, 13 races ago.
It’s the second pole position for Truex at New Hampshire – last earning the top starting spot in his 2017 championship season – and 20th pole position of his career.
Kurt Busch and his 23XI Racing teammate Bubba Wallace will start their Toyotas on the second row, followed by another Toyota, JGR’s Christopher Bell, who has three Xfinity Series wins at the track and finished runner-up to Aric Almirola in last year’s NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire.
Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron – who was fastest in practice – qualified sixth, followed by the defending winner Almirola, reigning series champion Kyle Larson, two-time New Hampshire race winner Brad Keselowski and four-time New Hampshire winner Kevin Harvick.
It’s the best start for Keselowski, in his first year as co-owner of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford, since a third-place qualifying effort at Daytona – his only other top-10 start of the season.
FUTURE IS NOW
Tyler Reddick, who earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory two races ago at Elkhart Lake, Wisc. was part of a major – and unique – announcement this week.
The 23XI Racing team announced Reddick will be driving for them in 2024 – stunning much of the NASCAR world as the team secured its future driver more than a year before the current Richard Childress Racing driver will join the two-year old organization.
“Announcing a driver over a year before he will be racing with 23XI is a little unprecedented, but Tyler was the driver we wanted and we did not want to miss the opportunity to bring him to our team,’’ 23XI President Steve Lauletta said Tuesday.
“In making the announcement now the team has ample time to prepare for 2024 on the business side as we expect interest from potential partners and continue to see strong engagement from our current partners.”
ALMIROLA HOPING FOR TWO IN ROW AT NEW HAMPSHIRE
Stewart-Haas Racing driver Almirola is the defending winner of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race and there has been a lot of recent speculation as to whether the 38-year old may change his mind about retiring at the end of the 2022 season as he had planned.
“It is humbling to have people keep questioning me about it,’’ said Almirola, who is ranked 18th in the championship and likely needing a victory to secure a 2022 Playoff position.
“I have given it thought but I don’t have anything new to say really as of right now. I think for us and for our race team, my focus is to get through these next few weeks and try to win a race to get our way into the Playoffs.
“I would like to do that here this weekend like we did last year. As far as anything that goes past this year, I don’t have anything new to say than what I’ve said previously.’’
After adjusting for race winners – Almirola trails 16th place Christopher Bell by 42 points in that final Playoff transfer position. A three-race winner in his 11-year, full-time NASCAR Cup Series career, Almirola has had a pair of top-5 finishes and six top-10 runs in 2022.
Chase Briscoe’s win at Phoenix in March is the only victory for the Stewart-Haas Racing organization this season and he’s the only driver among the four SHR racers with a secured spot in the Playoffs.
JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry earned the first pole position of his Xfinity Series career for the Crayon 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon (2:30 p.m ET, USA Network, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Berry will start from the rear of the field after unapproved adjustments.
This will mark Berry’s 47th career start in the Xfinity Series. He was followed No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet driven by 2021 series champion Daniel Hemric. It’s the third top-10 start in four starts at the New Hampshire mile for Hemric. Justin Allgaier, Ty Gibbs and Landon Cassill round out the top-5 in qualifying.
Current Xfinity Series championship leader A.J. Allmendinger qualified seventh. NASCAR Cup Series regular William Byron qualified the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet 10th.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver Gibbs, who leads the series with four wins, was fastest in final practice, ahead of Trevor Bayne who will drive the No. 18 JGR Toyota and Byron.
Christopher Bell is the three-time defending race winner but the NASCAR Cup Series regular is not entered this weekend.
NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – 30th Annual Ambetter 301
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Loudon, New Hampshire
Saturday, July 16, 2022
1. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 127.113 mph.
2. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 126.922 mph.
3. (45) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 126.825 mph.
4. (23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 126.513 mph.
5. (20) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 126.425 mph.
6. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 126.387 mph.
7. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 126.040 mph.
8. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 126.019 mph.
9. (6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 125.252 mph.
10. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 0.000 mph.
11. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 0.000 mph.
12. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 0.000 mph.
13. (8) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
14. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 0.000 mph.
15. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 0.000 mph.
16. (17) Chris Buescher, Ford, 0.000 mph.
17. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 0.000 mph.
18. (1) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
19. (99) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
20. (16) AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
21. (7) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
22. (43) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
23. (41) Cole Custer, Ford, 0.000 mph.
24. (47) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
25. (31) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
26. (38) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 0.000 mph.
27. (48) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
28. (2) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 0.000 mph.
29. (14) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 0.000 mph.
30. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
31. (21) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 0.000 mph.
32. (78) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 0.000 mph.
33. (15) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 0.000 mph.
34. (77) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
35. (42) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
36. (51) Cody Ware, Ford, 0.000 mph.