Carl Edwards has swept the New Hampshire poles in 2015, taking top spot for the Sylvania 300 at at a speed of 137.980mph.
The #19 Sport Clips Toyota broke the Chevrolet domination that prevailed in qualifying in the early rounds, beating out the two winners of the early qualifying rounds, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson. Those two men finished up 4th and 5th overall, just behind Edwards, Johnson’s arch-nemesis from last week Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski.
With the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup well underway, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see the majority of the top 15 being Chasers – 11, to be exact – with only Chase near-missers Kyle Larson (6th), Kasey Kahne (11th), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (14th) and Aric Almirola (15th) interrupting the show. As for those Chasers who weren’t at the sharp end, Clint Bowyer‘s rough week went from bad to worse as he slipped through the trapdoor in round 1, starting a meagre 26th.
Having been slapped with a hefty penalty during the week which saw his #15 Toyota team slip to last in the Chase standings, a quick turnaround is needed to ensure a safe passage into the second elimination round. Jamie McMurray (23rd), Martin Truex Jr. (21st) and Paul Menard (20th) also struggled by their own high standards, with Menard just one behind the ever-impressive Casey Mears, who has quietly logged a very impressive season for the Germain Racing #13 Geico Chevrolet.
At the other end of the scale, the battle for the go-or-go-homers was eventually lost by Travis Kvapil in the #30 Key Motorsports Chevrolet, not the first time that team has had to pack up and miss the show this season. It was tight in the lower order, and a 39th fastest time for Kvapil was not enough when Owner’s Provisionals were factored in.
After a fraught first round of the Chase last weekend at Chicagoland, expect the fireworks to continue at New Hampshire – a 1-mile flat track that can be as tactical as it can be explosive. And whilst the top ten has a very familiar look to it, it’s still ten or more drivers who are all in contention – and a lot of whom will be looking for a golden ticket to the next round. Stories abound wherever you look in the Sylvania 300 starting lineup – British fans, lock in to Premier Sports at 18:30 Sunday evening, because the story of the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup is only just beginning.