It was a record-breaking afternoon at the Magic Mile. Brad Keselowski zipped around the 1.058-mile oval at 135.922 miles per hour (28.022 seconds), setting a new track qualifying record in the process. It was the second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the first of the season for the defending Sprint Cup Series champion.
"We have a great race car here, and our race team is ready to hit its stride for the season," said Keselowski, who enters Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 301 13th in points. "We are hungry, we feel we can do it, but I don't feel a sense of panic."
Points leader Jimmie Johnson, whose car needed to re-enter inspection before qualifying for an illegal side skirt and coming in overweight, would have started on the front row next to Keselowski. But Johnson's No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet was deemed too low during a post-qualifying inspection and he was moved to the back of the field.
Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon round out the top-five qualifiers.
A total of nine drivers broke the track's old qualifying record of 135.232 mph (28.165 seconds) set by Ryan Newman back in July of 2011. Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Burton also broke Newman's old mark, while Juan Pablo Montoya takes the final spot in the top-10.
"The Gen-6 car always show speed on the stopwatch," said Kurt Busch. "They are fun to drive and another record fell."
Johnson said his side skirt measured one-sixteenthof an inch too long and his car came in one pound overweight. That was corrected before he took the track for qualifying, but another check in the post-qualifying inspection caught another infraction, pushing Johnson from second to the rear of the field.
"Not so much anger, but anxiety for starting position," said Johnson, who didn't find out of his failed inspection until after the post-qualifying press conference. "We cut it close on time and I had to get my heart rate down with a few deep breaths."
NASCAR's best will race for Loudon the Lobster on Sunday. 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 by visiting www.nhms.com.