ony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent in time trials Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon by qualifying third for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Stewart turned a lap of 28.304 seconds at 134.568 mph on the 1.058-mile oval.
“It seemed like our Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevy got better grip the second lap. Just took a little longer for the tires to come in,” said Stewart, who has three Sprint Cup wins at New Hampshire (July 2000, July 2005 and September 2011). “Track position is big here. If you get hemmed up in the back, it can be a long day. This is a good starting spot for us.”
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Aspen Dental Chevrolet for SHR, will start eighth after turning a lap of 28.438 seconds at 133.933 mph.
“Our Aspen Dental Chevrolet was good,” said Newman, who also has three Sprint Cup wins at New Hampshire (September 2002, September 2005 and July 2011). “We didn’t get the entire lap that we wanted, but we feel like we’ve always got something to work with when we come here.”
Jeff Gordon captured his 72nd career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his fourth at New Hampshire by posting a lap of 28.232 seconds at 134.911 mph. Gordon remained third on the all-time Sprint Cup pole list, but is still well back of second-place David Pearson, who has 113 poles. Richard Petty is the leader with 123 pole positions.
Kyle Busch will start on the outside of row one as he timed in at 28.265 seconds at 134.753 mph. Stewart was third, while Brian Vickers (28.322 seconds at 134.483 mph) and Carl Edwards (28.349 seconds at 134.354 mph) rounded out the top-five.
Forty-seven drivers attempted to qualify for the Sylvania 300. Those not making the cut in the 43-car field were Scott Riggs, Jason Leffler, Jeff Green and Josh Wise.
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
YOU ARE THE DEFENDING RACE WINNER HERE AND YOU COME IN THIRD IN POINTS. LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE SET FOR ANOTHER GOOD PERFORMANCE ON SUNDAY
“I hope so. It was definitely a good lap for us. We had a good practice this morning and it was just really nice to be able to back it up for qualifying and it’s definitely the perfect way to start the weekend off for sure. It’s a nice length race; it’s not 500 laps here, which it doesn’t need to be and the hard thing it that it’s hard to pass at times here but it seems like after you get about 15 or 20 laps on the tires and everybody can pretty much get where they need to go. But we’ll have a good pit spot and hopefully we can keep that track position all day and not have to beat our car up trying to get up there.”
IN JULY WE HAD TWO LONG GREEN-FLAG RUNS THAT WERE 90 LAPS. HOW IMPORTANT IS TRACK POSITION HERE?
“Yeah, it’s pretty important. It just depends on what your car is doing. If you’ve got a good car, a long run can be an asset as much as it seems like some people think it could be a determent. But having a long run, and if your car is good; every time you get to put tires on, you’re kind of reset for 15 or 20 laps. So, it’s nice to get some long runs here and nice to be able to get things sorted out to where you can race guys one on one versus having to sit there and worry about two behind you and two guys in front of you. It makes the racing a little bit easier, really.”
DOES THE FACT THAT THERE WAS CONSISTENCY THIS TIME REGARDING THE TIRE, AND THE WAY YOU AND JEFF GORDON QUALIFIED, DOES THAT INDICATE THAT MAYBE THE MORE CONSISTENT TIRE HAS BROUGHT YOU GUYS MORE INTO THE GAME?
“Well, we’ve got another chance to work with it. The more opportunities you’ve got to work with something, the better you’re going to get with it. It seems like every time we go good at a track, the next time when we come back they change the tires (laughs); but hopefully we’ll get caught up like we did here. Last year, we had really good cars here, both races. Today we’re much better than we were in the spring here. So, I’m really proud of Steve Addington (crew chief) and our organization with Ryan (Newman) qualifying eighth. We’ve got two really good cars in this race. It’s proof that the work they are doing is paying off.”
DO YOU WANT TO RACE IN A MODIFIED HERE LIKE RYAN NEWMAN HAS?
“Is it the fact that I’ve been staring at the monitor since qualifying has been on that made you ask that? (laughter)
I THINK THE LAST TIME YOU WERE IN ONE YOU WERE JUMPING THROUGH THE INFIELD, WEREN’T YOU?
“Yeah. We definitely needed to work on the shock package. It cleared the double; it just cased it on the triples, the hard parts (more laughter). Yeah, but they’re fun. They’re really fun here. With the draft the way it is and everything; I don’t know about Bristol. I haven’t had the chance to watch Bristol, but I know Loudon, I still think the Modified race is probably the best race of the weekend here. It just always has been; and it’s just fun to watch those cars and it’s fun to drive them. There’s a cool group of guys that run those things. It’s definitely a chess match. You’ve really got to think about how hard you’re running your tires and that pit strategy is a big key to it. So, yeah, I’m sitting here thinking, yeah, I’d like to do that again for sure.”
The Sylvania 300 gets underway at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m.