Kurt Busch Starting 26th In Sunday's Lenox Tools 301

June 27, 2008

LOUDON, N.H. (June 27, 2008) - In a qualifying session that required some three hours and twenty minutes to complete, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch took the 26th starting spot for Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 in today's time trials at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

"Wow, this was almost like we were qualifying at Talladega here today because it took so long with the rain and all," said Busch, who went out eighth in the order and clocked in with a lap of 127.791 mph (29.789 seconds). "Like I told them right after we made our run, we ran a 29.80 (-second lap) in practice and we qualified at a 29.78 (-second lap), so that was pretty consistent.

"The bad thing was that our lap was ninth-fastest in practice and probably would have stood up to make the top-20 had the rain not come," Busch continued. "Just like it normally does when the session continues after a shower, the track is cooler and faster. Really, it didn't mean all that much to us either way. If it would have rained the session out, we would have started 22nd because of the points.

"We just have to really put our nose to the grindstone in the two practices scheduled here tomorrow," said Busch. "Through the years, the starting spots here really don't mean that much in the race. We started 32nd here and won back in '04. I'm just using that as an example and certainly not predicting that we can win here on Sunday. It's always been difficult to pass here and with this new car, it's harder than ever to get by the other fellow."

The session began as scheduled this afternoon under threatening skies at 3:10 p.m. Penske Racing's Ryan Newman was first to take to the track and he turned in a lap of 128.385 mph (29.667 seconds) to lead the early part of the session. That held the point until Reed Sorenson took to the track as the 11th driver to make his qualifying run. Sorenson turned in a lap of 128.828 mph (29.565 seconds) to grab the provisional pole.

But while Kyle Busch, the 25th driver out, was making his run against the clock, the rains came and NASCAR halted the session at 3:54 p.m.

The rain eventually stopped and the track-drying process began. At 5:48 p.m., the younger Busch Brother took to the track again to make another attempt. After the No. 18 car completed his second attempt, the fast times came fast and furious.

At the end of the session, only Sorenson remained in the top-10 of the 24 drivers posting their attempts before the precipitation hit. Four of the top-10 spots went to members of the "go-or-go-home gang," drivers not currently in the top-35 in car owners' points.

In a shocker, it was Patrick Carpentier, the 40th of 45 drivers making attempts here today, who claimed the pole. Carpentier, the driver of the No. 10 Gillette-Evernham Dodge, took the top starting spot with his lap of 129.776 mph (29.349 seconds).

Bobby Labonte (129.059 mph/29.512 seconds) starts second, with Kevin Harvick (128.976 mph/29.531 seconds) third, Scott Riggs (128.976 mph/29.531 seconds) fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (128.885 mph/29.552 seconds) fifth. Sorenson starts sixth, with Dario Franchitti seventh, Martin Truex Jr. eighth, Matt Kenseth ninth and A.J. Almendinger 10th.

Newman's lap held up for the 16th starting spot, while Penske Racing's rookie driver Sam Hornish Jr. took the 20th starting spot with a lap of 128.251 mph (29.698 seconds).

Saturday's schedule here at NHMS calls for practice sessions from 9:00 a.m. till 9:50 a.m. and from 11:45 a.m. till 12:45 p.m. Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 (301 laps, 318.458 miles) has a 2:00 p.m. starting time and features live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.