Larson Fails Inspection, Hands Pole to Truex for Sunday's Overton's 301
Kyle Larson had the best car in practice and he dominated all three rounds of Friday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, the pilot of the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing will start Sunday's Overton's 301 at the rear of the field after failing post-qualifying inspection for an unapproved rear deck lid, handing the inside front row starting position to series points leader Martin Truex Jr.
"Not the way we wanted to get our first pole of the year," said Truex, "but I'm looking forward to starting up front and getting a good pit stall."
Truex, who has already won three times this year, including last weekend's race at Kentucky Speedway, will look for his first-career win at the 1.058-mile oval. Truex has three top-fives in 22 career starts at NHMS.
The hot topic on Friday was the sticky substance called PJ1 which was applied to the high line of the turns, making for a better grip for all of the drivers. Larson described the changes as great and drivers unanimously agree it should make for more competitive side-by-side racing on Sunday.
"It is cool that we are running a full lane and maybe lane and a half above what we want to do, and even on the bottom," said Truex. "I'm hoping that they would consider adding it even higher up the track and giving us even more lanes in the turns."
In qualifying, reigning Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, winner of two of the last three NHMS races Matt Kenseth, Larson's Chip Ganassi teammate Jamie McMurray and 2012 NHMS winner Kasey Kahne round out the top-five qualifiers.
Erik Jones will start sixth, making him the highest qualifying rookie.
Kyle Busch (seventh) will look for his 175th career national series victory and Denny Hamlin will start eighth in spite of going to a backup car after crashing in practice.
Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick round out the top-12 qualifiers.
For Larson, he will have to work his way up from the rear of the field for the second straight week. Larson was docked 35 points and lost crew chief Chad Johnston for three races after an illegal rear brake cooling assembly was found on the No. 42 after last week's second-place finish at Kentucky Speedway.