Brad Keselowski wins pole for Sunday’s Chase race at New Hampshire

Leave a comment

Everything continued to go Brad Keselowski’s way this afternoon during Sprint Cup qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The 2012 Cup champion, who advanced to the Chase’s Contender Round with his win last weekend, set a new NHMS track record to claim his fifth pole of the season.

With a little more than five minutes to go in qualifying, Keselowski turned in a lap of 27.090 seconds (140.598 mph) that was too quick for anyone to beat out.

He and non-Chase competitor Jamie McMurray (27.121 seconds, 140.437 mph) will lead the field to the green flag for Sunday’s Sylvania 300.

“I try not to get caught up in statements, I’m just trying to go out there and do our job,” Keselowski told Fox Sports. “The Penske team has done phenomenal this season, and it’s great to keep it rolling.

“Loudon’s always been one of my favorite tracks, and we’ve won a couple poles here before. But this one is a little extra special with everything that’s going on and going through the Chase and what not. I’m ready to get running tomorrow and hopefully, we’ll get another win.”

With his spot in the Contender Round already set, Keselowski can race without worry. His front-row counterpart, McMurray, on the other hand will be out to steal some attention from him and the rest of the Chasers.

It’s something that he’s done before. While he himself has never been a Chaser, he has won several Chase races in his career – the most recent of those coming last year at Talladega Superspeedway.

“I thought our car was really good in race trim,” McMurray said. “We started with a similar set-up to what we ran here in the first race. We ran really well, we didn’t finish well, and the car was pretty good.

“[Crew chief] Keith [Rodden] made it a little bit better, so I’m looking forward to not the first [Saturday] practice at 9 a.m. ET, but the second practice when some rubber gets laid down and it’s hotter. It’s gonna be 20 degrees hotter than it is today on Sunday, but our car’s been good from the time we’ve unloaded it.”

In all, nine Chasers will be in the first six rows on Sunday’s grid:

Brad Keselowski – 1st
Kevin Harvick – 3rd
Denny Hamlin – 4th
Kyle Busch – 5th
Jimmie Johnson – 6th
Joey Logano – 7th
Carl Edwards – 8th
Ryan Newman – 9th
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 11th

As for the seven Chasers that did not crack the final qualifying round, that group was led by Jeff Gordon, who will go off from 13th for Sunday’s race.

“I’d say it was a little bit loose the first run out, but I felt like I got everything out of it,” Gordon said after missing the final round by eight one-hundredths of a second. “We just don’t have enough speed, that’s the bottom line.

“I think we’ll be a lot better in the race, but in qualifying – we went through the same process earlier in the year here, where we took two tries to get in and just snuck our way in [the next round] and we ended up ninth or 10th. I think that’s about where we are now.”

The other Chasers that did not advance include: Kurt Busch in 15th, Matt Kenseth in 16th, Kasey Kahne in 17th, Aric Almirola in 21st, Greg Biffle in 26th, and A.J. Allmendinger in 27th.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT NEW HAMPSHIRE – Sylvania 300
Qualifying results

1. *2-Brad Keselowski
2. 1-Jamie McMurray
3. *4-Kevin Harvick
4. *11-Denny Hamlin
5. *18-Kyle Busch
6. *48-Jimmie Johnson
7. *22-Joey Logano
8. *99-Carl Edwards
9. *31-Ryan Newman
10. 42-Kyle Larson
11. *88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12. 55-Brian Vickers
13. *24-Jeff Gordon
14. 15-Clint Bowyer
15. *41-Kurt Busch
16. *20-Matt Kenseth
17. *5-Kasey Kahne
18. 10-Danica Patrick
19. 17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
20. 9-Marcos Ambrose
21. *43-Aric Almirola
22. 3-Austin Dillon
23. 27-Paul Menard
24. 51-Justin Allgaier
25. 13-Casey Mears
26. *16-Greg Biffle
27. *47-A.J. Allmendinger
28. 14-Tony Stewart
29. 34-David Ragan
30. 40-Landon Cassill
31. 26-Cole Whitt
32. 78-Martin Truex Jr.
33. 83-Clay Rogers
34. 38-David Gilliland
35. 23-Alex Bowman
36. 33-David Stremme
37. 36-Reed Sorenson
38. 7-Michael Annett
39. 98-Josh Wise
40. 83-Travis Kvapil
41. 77-Corey Lajoie
42. 66-Mike Wallace
43. 32-Timmy Hill
*CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP COMPETITORS

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.