Brad Keselowski will start the second race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship the way he ended the first one — out front.
Keselowski turned a track-record lap of 140.598 mph Friday to win the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
Keselowski is coming off consecutive victories at Richmond and the Chase for the Sprint Cup opener last week at Chicagoland. He swept the Cup and Nationwide races at New Hampshire in July.
The Team Penske driver has five poles this season and leads the series with five victories. He has eight poles in 189 career Sprint Cup starts.
“This kind of track is kind of right in my wheelhouse, right in our team’s wheelhouse,” Keselowski said. “We had this race circled before the Chase started and we felt decent about Chicago, but really felt like this was a race of emphasis for us to get a win and get out of the first bracket.”
Jamie McMurray, a non-Chase driver, was second. Chase drivers took the next seven spots. Kevin Harvick was third, followed by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman.
Chase drivers Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Gordon took 11th to 13th. Kurt Busch is 15th, Matt Kenseth 16th and Kasey Kahne 17th. Aric Almirol starts 22nd and Greg Biffle had the worst qualifying effort of any Chase driver and will start 26th.
Tony Stewart will start 28th in the No. 14 Chevrolet, his second-worst qualifying run of the season. Stewart was in the car for the first time since he learned a grand jury will decide his fate in the fatal sprint car crash in upstate New York.
Kyle Larson was 10th and was the fastest qualifying rookie.
“I don’t think anybody has anything for Brad right now,” Larson said. “It’s pretty amazing how fast he is everywhere we go.”
Courtney Force sets record in NHRA qualifying
Courtney Force topped funny car qualifying Friday in the Texas NHRA FallNationals in Ennis.
Force, a two-time event winner this season, set both ends of the Texas Motorplex record in her Ford Mustang with a 4.039-second pass at 314.90 mph. She has three No. 1 qualifying positions this year and six in her 65-race career.
“Going into this race I was confident that we had a good car,” Force said. “To go out there and go to the No. 1 spot with our Traxxas team and run a number like that, is a good weekend so far. We still have tomorrow and it is going to down since we are running later in the day but I’m excited and proud of my team.”
J.R. Todd led in top fuel, Shane Gray in pro stock and Hector Arana Jr. in pro stock motorcycle in the second event of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Todd had a track-record time of 3.761 at 317.87 in his Kalitta Motorsports dragster. If the time holds, it will be Todd’s second consecutive No. 1 position in the Countdown playoffs.
Gray finished in 6.577 at 209.88 in his Chevy Camaro. Gray will meet Erica Enders-Stevens in the second round of eliminations for the delayed NHRA Carolina Nationals, which will be completed Saturday.
Arana had a 6.855 at 194.63 on a Buell. He also won his first round of eliminations for the Carolina event.