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Busch wins pole for Sunday's NHMS race

By REID SPENCER
NASCAR Wire Service

September 22. 2017 10:23PM
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch talks with a crew member during qualifying for the ISM Connect 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Busch won the pole. (USA Today Sports)

LOUDON — Kyle Busch went from the top of the chart to near disaster and back to the top again in winning the pole position for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. on NBCSN), the second race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff.

After posting the fastest lap in the first round of knockout qualifying at the 1.058-mile track on Friday, Busch missed his mark entering Turn 1 in the second round and narrowly averted a session-ending crash into the outside wall.

But Busch recovered on his second lap in the round, cracked the top 12 and saved his best effort for last in the final round, navigating the Magic Mile in 20. 203 seconds (135.049 mph) to edge Kyle Larson (134.911 mph) for the top starting spot.

The Coors Light Pole Award was Busch’s third at New Hampshire, his eighth of the season and the 27th of his career. Busch also started first on the grid for last Sunday’s Playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway.

“I didn’t think I hit it very well, actually,” Busch said of his lap in the money round. “I was going to go out and run my second lap and try for a little bit more, but I slipped off of (Turn) 2 really bad, so I just had to abort. It definitely wasn’t going to be any faster.”

Busch acknowledged he was fortunate to keep his car intact after the slip in Round 2 that resulted from trying to keep his left-side tires in contact with the PJ1 traction compound that had been applied to the track.

“I gave myself too much room on my left sides, trying to keep ’em in the black on entry, and it was like half a car too wide to the right,” Busch said. “I was nervous.

“I thought I was 48 and 24-ing there for a second (a reference to crashes in first practice by Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott), but I was able to hang onto it, surprisingly, and battle through on the backstretch and ease her off into (Turn) 3 and build my lap back up heading to the start/finish line.”

Tripleheader weekend announced for next year

New Hampshire Motor Speedway may be losing one of its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races next season, but the track and NASCAR have devised a formidable tripleheader weekend to take the place of the Cup event next September.

In what is billed as the largest ever touring series event, NHMS will host the longest NASCAR Whelen Modified Series race in history (250 laps at the 1.058-mile track), a race with an international flavor combining the K&N Pro East Series, Peak Mexico Series and Whelen Euro Series, and the first NASCAR Pinty’s Series event ever held outside Canada.

Dates for the extravaganza are Sept. 21-22.


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