Story By: SHANNON STEPHENS / NHMS – LOUDON, NH – Defending champion Christopher Bell earned the pole position during qualifying for Sunday’s Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) on Saturday.
Bell, driving the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, posted a lap of 124.781 mph (30.524 seconds).
“It’s crazy how much difference the temperature can change the cars,” Bell said. “These things are really sliding around. You’re on the edge here for sure.”
Bell and Kyle Busch are the only two drivers to have won in every NASCAR national series at the track. Bell can become just the fifth driver (Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth) to win consecutive NCS races at “The Magic Mile” with a victory on Sunday.
Bell’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. was second with a speed of 124.752 mph. 2021 New Hampshire champion Aric Almirola (124.707 mph) was third fastest, with Joey Logano fourth and Ryan Blaney fifth.
“It’s really difficult to get the balance the way you want it,” Truex said. “Overall, we were fast. We’re excited to be here in New Hampshire. We’ve been after a win here for a while.”
Michael McDowell, driving the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports, posted the quickest practice speed with a lap of 126.416 mph (30.129 seconds).
The Crayon 301 is the 52nd NCS race at NHMS.
New Hampshire’s NCS qualifying record was set by Brad Keselowski in September 2014 with a lap of 140.598 mph (27.090 seconds).
NHMS’s NASCAR weekend events include:
- Ambetter Health 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series, Saturday, 3 p.m. (USA, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
- Mohegan Sun 100 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Saturday, 6 p.m. (Flo Racing)
- Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series, Sunday, 2:30 p.m. (USA, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Four-Time NHMS Winner Jeff Burton Named Crayon 301 Honorary Pace Car Driver
No stranger to leading the field at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS), NBC motorsports analyst and four-time NHMS NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) winner Jeff Burton has been named honorary pace car driver for Sunday’s Crayon 301 and will once again set the pace at “The Magic Mile.”
“I’m honored to be asked to drive the pace car on Sunday,” Burton said. “NHMS has been a huge part of my career, and it’s humbling to have an opportunity to celebrate my success at the track.”
In 39 career starts at NHMS, Burton earned 15 top-10s, nine top-fives and four wins (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000). The four wins at the 1.058-mile track ties him for most all-time with Kevin Harvick, who will make his final start as a full-time driver at the Loudon facility on Sunday.
Before New England’s only NCS race hits the track, fans will be treated to a bevy of entertainment in the Fan Zone, including the Canine Stars dog stunt show, NASCAR Kids Zone and Trackside Live driver appearances by Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski and Justin Haley on “The Magic Mile” Entertainment Stage.