Johnson Takes First-Ever NHMS Pole
Jimmie Johnson has done just about everything in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. He's even been a back-to-back winner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, one of only two drivers to ever achieve that feat. On Friday, Johnson found a way to pad an already impressive resume, winning his first-career pole at the Magic Mile. The six-time Sprint Cup Series champion will start on the front row for Sunday’s New Hampshire 301.
It was the 35th-career pole in 526 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races for Johnson and his first pole and ninth top-10 start this year.
"We’ve had a tough month or two and to be back in the Media Center is a nice feeling," said Johnson, who comes to Loudon with just one top-10 finish in his last nine starts. “This is the most important track for qualifying position. It feels really good to be the fastest car here.”
Kyle Busch, winner of last July’s race at NHMS, will start second. Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin will roll off third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
“I messed up a couple times in Turns 1 and 2, and again in 4, but I had to be careful and save the car,” Kyle Busch said. “I’m surprised we were second. The car isn’t driving how I would like it to drive, but this was a good day for the Interstate Batteries team. We did a good job here and I’m looking forward to working on it tomorrow (in practice) heading into Sunday.”
New England native Joey Logano, a two-time winner at NHMS, will start sixth; rookie Chase Elliott - who took over for Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports – will start seventh; and Kevin Harvick will start eighth.
Brad Keselowski, who comes to New Hampshire fresh off consecutive wins at Daytona International Speedway and Kentucky Speedway, will start ninth.
“I feel really confident and this track is a really good track for us, and there is no place else I would rather be,” said Keselowski, who won the 2014 July race at the Magic Mile. “We’re looking forward to a good day on Sunday and seeing if we can get our Miller Lite Ford back in victory lane.”
A.J. Allmendinger (10th), Kasey Kahne (11th) and Tony Stewart (12th) round out the top-12 drivers who reached the final round of group qualifying on Friday.
Alex Bowman, who is filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. this week, will start 20th. Earnhardt will miss the race due to concussion-like symptoms following recent hard hits at Michigan and Daytona.
“I’m proud of Dale that he said something about not feeling right,” said Johnson, his teammate at Hendrick Motorsports. “I’ve had some hard hits, too, and some people are more sensitive to repeat incidents. But we owe a lot to Dale in regards to this race. He tested for the team here (May 31-June 1) and that made a difference for us today.”
NASCAR's best will race for Loudon the Lobster on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. A limited number of seats for both Saturday and Sunday’s events are still available. To purchase tickets please call the NHMS ticket hotline at (603) 783-4931 or visit www.nhms.com.