The luck of the draw for Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway put Aric Almirola’s #10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford on the pole — his third pole and sixth front-row starting spot in the last 12 races.
“It kind of takes you back to Saturday-night, short-track racing,” Almirola said of racing at NHMS. “It’s a mile track, but it races like a short track. You go there and see the Modified division there and it makes you feel like when you were a kid and racing Late Models. It’s a fun track to race at, and I’ve had some success there, and I’ve run well there in the past.”
Denny Hamlin, a three-time NHMS winner who leads the Cup Series in wins, so far, in 2020 with five, drew the second starting position for his Toyota.
“I just think I’m a short-track guy at heart,” Hamlin said. “I’ve always adapted to the flat mile tracks, whether it be Phoenix, three-quarter mile at Richmond, or New Hampshire. It just seems like the flat tracks, flat short tracks, I have always been really, really good at. It feels like an eternity since we’ve run a short track other than the All-Star Race. We’re going to be going back there with a different aerodynamic package from what we ran last year, so we can’t just rely on the notes that we have from previous years. The closest thing we could use is probably Phoenix earlier this year, but I wrecked out of that race early so we don’t have a whole lot of notes to go by. I’m sure we’ll be pretty close when we unload on Sunday. With the way this team has performed this year and New Hampshire fitting my driving style, I think we can add another win to the year this weekend.”
All three manufacturers will be represented in the top-three starting positions Sunday. Chase Elliott drew the third starting position to start his Chevrolet in the second row alongside Brad Keselowski in another Ford.
Reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, still in search of his first win of the season, drew the fifth starting spot to share the third row with Almirola’s SHR teammate Clint Bowyer.
A third SHR driver, Kevin Harvick, who is the only driver who nears Hamlin’s five-win 2020 tally with four of his own, drew the seventh starting position. While Hamlin leads Harvick in 2020 Cup Series wins by one, Harvick leads Hamlin in wins at New Hampshire with four, including the last two races there.
“Yeah, this place has been really good to us, and I think Rodney [Childers, crew chief] and I probably feel like we should have – could have – won them all,” Harvick said. ”But it’s been a race track that has been really good for us from a performance standpoint. And I think, from a confidence standpoint, being able to adjust on the car and know what we’re looking for, I think this is definitely a racetrack where a lot of those things came into play, and we used a lot of the same things that we’ve used in the past as far as tools of how we make our car go around the corner. I think obviously it’s been a great racetrack for us.”
While the top-12 teams in owner points drew for the top-12 starting spots, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson was among those 13th through 24th in points who drew for those corresponding positions. Johnson’s draws are consistent, as he drew the 20th starting position for the fourth-consecutive race.