Sprint Cup qualifying

Kevin Harvick wins pole for Sprint Cup finale; Kyle Busch tops among Chasers in ninth

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Kevin Harvick scored his second pole of the year for the Sprint Cup Series’ season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Harick put up a top speed of 177.637 mph around the 1.5-mile track to grab the pole for the Ford EcoBoost 400. It’s his 17th Sprint Cup pole.

“That’s awesome, I didn’t know if we had chance for the pole with how fast (Chase Elliott) was running,” Harvick told NBCSN. “I knew in every round that if we could just run the same speed that’s usually half the battle. You never know how much it’s going slow down for everybody else.”

Filling out the top five is Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott.

The highest qualifying Chase driver is Kyle Busch in ninth, followed by Carl Edwards in 10th. Joey Logano starts 13th alongside Jimmie Johnson in 14th.

Busch will start in the top 10 for the third straight Homestead race.

“(The car was) really free, we freed up the most of our teammates,” Busch told NBCSN. “We needed to do that. Ultimately, we didn’t qualify were we would have liked to. That was not where I was expecting or hoping for. All things considered you’ve got to look at the big picture. We’re all ninth to 14th. There’s pretty much a blanket there.”

Edwards has started 10th or worse in three of the last four Homestead races.

“I screwed up a little bit,” Edwards told NBCSN. “The car’s so fast and it’s so line sensitive out there. I was probably too aggressive and got on the splitter a little bit. It’s a starting spot. In a way I guess it’s good we’re all back there, but they won’t be back there long, all of us won’t. We’ve got some pretty good race cars.”

Logano will start outside the top 12 for the seventh time this season.

“Was a little free, was a little tight at other times,” Logano told NBCSN. “It’s just hard to get back out there real quick and the tires just don’t want you to go faster.”

With all four Chasers beginning Sunday’s race so close together Logano said he told Johnson “we all sucked.”

In the first round, while outside the top 24, Johnson was in the middle of his second run when the session was red flagged with 57 second left for a spin by Landon Cassill exiting Turn 4. Johnson was on the backstretch and was scored as being slower than he would have needed to make it into the top 24.

Once the track reopened, Johnson was able to begin a lap and advance to the second round with the 22nd-best speed before placing 114th in the final round.

“That was wild, to have the caution come out certainly didn’t help us,” Johnson told NBCSN. “To have tires that old and post a respectable lap is good for the Lowes’ Chevrolet. Unfortunately, was just off on that first run and got behind. I’m so much better at racing.”

In his final Sprint Cup start, Tony Stewart will roll off 11th.

Click here for full qualifying results.

Kenseth wins first pole of year for Hollywood Casino 400

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Matt Kenseth will start from the pole for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Kenseth qualified first for the first time this season with a lap at 192.089 mph for the 18th pole of his career.

“It’s nice to get a pole, I feel like our qualifying hasn’t been nearly as good this year, as consistent as it has been in the years since I’ve been at JGR,” Kenseth told NBCSN. “We barely got it … obviously our Camry’s have been fast, our DeWalt Flexvolt Camry’s being driving good. Jason Ratcliff made all the right adjustments. Round One we were pretty decent, Round Two it was off a little bit off, and Round Three it was just right.”

Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated Toyotas captured the top four starting spots with Kenseth followed by Kyle Busch (192.084), Carl Edwards (191.015) and Martin Truex Jr. (190.786). Alex Bowman (190.315) will start fifth in the No. 88 Chevrolet.

Kenseth’s pole is the 10th of the year for JGR. All four of its drivers have won a pole. Kenseth had four in 2015.

The only three Chase drivers who didn’t reach the third round were Chase Elliott (13th), Kurt Busch (15th) and Jimmie Johnson (21st).

“From round one to round two the car was much tighter,” Johnson told NBCSN. “We attempted to free it up, and I’m not sure if some of those adjustments might have changed the ride height of the car, affected the splitter’s orientation to the ground. A ton tighter than what we had in the opening round.”

This will be Johnson’s fifth start of 20th or worse this season. Johnson, who won last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway to secure a spot in the Round of 8, never has made the final round of group qualifying at Kansas.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Johnson said. “I’m not accustomed to qualifying well all the time. I’m used to racing through traffic.”

The first round briefly was red-flagged after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact with the wall exiting Turn 4. Stenhouse advanced to the second round and qualified 18th.

Click here to see full qualifying results.

Carl Edwards wins sixth pole of year for New Hampshire race

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Carl Edwards added to his series-leading pole total with his sixth of the year, winning the pole for Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Edwards claimed the top spot with a speed of 135.453 mph around the “Magic Mile.”

It is Edwards’ third pole in four races at New Hampshire.

Filling out the top five was Martin Truex Jr. (135.212), Ryan Newman (134.896), Jimmie Johnson (134.858) and Denny Hamlin (134.796).

“This is what we needed,” Edwards told NBCSN. “We didn’t run well at Chicago, that was really frustrating. Come here, start on the pole, get a great pit stall. Hopefully we can turn this into a good race. The car is built for speed.”

This will be Edwards’ 10th top-five start in the last 13 races.

Newman’s third-place start is his best of the season. His previous best was fourth (Atlanta, Fontana).

The biggest name not advancing to the final round is Kevin Harvick, who managed to put up the 19th best lap in the second round. It will be Harvick’s worst start at New Hampshire since he began the fall 2013 race in 18th.

Tony Stewart will start his final New Hampshire race in 22nd.

Chris Buescher and Austin Dillon were the only Chase drivers not to advance beyond the first round.

Buescher will start 28th, followed by Dillon, who is in a backup car after a practice crash.

Qualifying results

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Carl Edwards clinches sweep of Bristol poles in 2016

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After teammate Denny Hamlin was fastest in the first two rounds, Carl Edwards put down a lap of 131.407 mph to claim the pole for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

It’s Edwards fifth pole of 2016, his second in as many races and gives him a sweep of the poles at the short track this season.

“A little bit surprised, we didn’t make a mock (qualifying) run (in practice),” Edwards told NBC Sports. “That tells you how great of teammates I have. They’re so fast. They helped us a lot.”

Edwards’ five poles are a career high. Before 2016, the most he had in a season was three in three different seasons.

Edwards was followed by Hamlin (131.200), Kyle Busch (130.931), Ryan Blaney (130.637) and Matt Kenseth (130.619).

“I can’t believe we’ve qualified as well as we have this year and not gotten a pole, ” Hamlin told NBC Sports. Hamlin has an average start of 6.4 through the first 22 races of this season. “The top (lane) will definitely come in, it’s just a matter of if it will be quicker than the bottom. I think the bottom wears out tires, so you have to be aware of that.”

Blaney, the rookie for Wood Brothers Racing, will make his career-best start on a non-restrictor-plate track (fourth, Talladega 2014). His previous best was fifth at Michigan in 2015 and earlier this year.

“It’s been one of the smoothest day I think we’ve had,” Blaney told NBC Sports. “Our qualifying trim was really good and I thought our race trim was really similar, too.”

Jeff Gordon, making his fourth substitute start for Dale Earnhardt Jr., will start 11th. He hadn’t started better than 21st in his previous three outings. After qualifying, Gordon said he would not drive the No. 88 next week at Michigan because of a prior commitment. If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not cleared to race the race there, Hendrick Motorsports said Alex Bowman will be in the car.

Behind him is rookie Chris Buescher, who earned his best Sprint Cup start. The Front Row Motorsports car is part of an alliance with Roush Fenway Racing and is the only Roush related entry in the top 12. Buescher, who won at Pocono Raceway in a fog-shortened race, is three points out of the 30th spot, which he must be within to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Kyle Larson will start 23rd, followed by Kevin Harvick in 24th, marking his third straight race without advancing to the third round.

Greg Biffle spun with 16 minutes left in the first round and suffered light damage to his right rear quarter panel, Biffle had spun in the final practice session earlier Friday. The No. 16 will start 34th Saturday.

Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray, Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. failed to advance out of the third round. Stewart will start 27th in his final Sprint Cup start at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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Carl Edwards fastest at Watkins Glen for fourth pole position of season

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Carl Edwards put down a lap at 126.562 mph Saturday to claim the pole for the Sprint Cup Series’ Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International.

It’s the fourth pole of the season for Edwards (who previously qualified first at Texas, Bristol and Sonoma), breaking a tie with Martin Truex Jr. for the series lead. It also marks the second consecutive year a driver has swept the poles for the circuit’s road course races (AJ Allmendinger).

The top five qualifiers for Sunday’s race, which will be shown on the USA Network, are Edwards, Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch.

“The track is a little strange, it started out a little slippery in the first run,” Edwards told NBC Sports of the track that was repaved in the offseason. “We’ve got to work a little bit in race trim, but we’re starting up front. We’ve got a great pit crew.”

Edwards has one win at Sonoma Raceway (2014), but his best result at WGI is third in 2009. He has five top fives at the road course in upstate New York.

“I think tomorrow is going to be a little bit of an adventure,” said Edwards. “The new pavement, nobody knows how that’s going to go long, deep into the runs with tire build up. I think the braking zones are pretty tough, it’s going to be nice and warm.”

Larson will be making his best start of the year. It’s his second top five after qualifying fifth at Sonoma.

“We changed just about everything (after practice) I thought,” Larson told NBC Sports. “Finally got some grip late in practice. You could still use some more, but it was fun. I didn’t think I’d end up second. I didn’t think I ran that good of a lap the first round. Missed the bus stop pretty bad. I think if I’d not tried to brake as deep that first run I had in the second round, probably could have gotten close to what Edwards ran there.”

Tony Stewart, who has five wins at WGI, will start his last race on the road course in third. He started third last year before a rear-gear problem resulted in a DNF.

Jeff Gordon, substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the third consecutive race, will start 21st. No Hendrick Motorsports cars will start in the top 12. Jimmie Johnson was the best qualifier in 13th.

Michael McDowell will start 11th, tying his previous best start in seven races at WGI from 2012. That also ties his best start at a non-restrictor plate track.

The first session briefly was red-flagged with 15:19 left to clean up debris from a Paul Menard spin in the inner loop. Menard will start 33rd.

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