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NASCAR at New Hampshire: Carl Edwards wins 1st pole since 2013

Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch stand on the grid during Friday’s qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2015 in Loudon, N.H. Edwards will start from the pole Sunday.
Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch stand on the grid during Friday’s qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2015 in Loudon, N.H. Edwards will start from the pole Sunday. Getty Images

Need another sign Joe Gibbs Racing is back on the right track?

Carl Edwards, in his first season driving in the Sprint Cup Series for JGR, won the pole Friday for Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – his first pole since November 2013.

The pole comes on the heels of JGR’s strong performance at last weekend’s race at Kentucky, which included a win by teammate Kyle Busch and all four JGR drivers finishing in the top five.

“It’s fun to have teammates that motivate me and push me and challenge me,” said Edwards, who posted an average lap speed of 135.164 mph in the final of three rounds to win the pole.

“The car is fast and not just fast, it drives very well. I think we have a shot at having a really good race.”

Joey Logano will start second and David Ragan third. JGR’s Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin round out the top five.

Reed Sorenson was the only car to fail to qualify for the 43-car field.

Changes in qualifying

NASCAR notified teams this week it will use its new superspeedway qualifying procedures for upcoming race weekends at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway.

The superspeedway format features two rounds of “knockout” qualifying but with each car taking just one timed lap in each round. The laps are run on a single-car, expedited basis but not in groups.

The top 12 fastest drivers from Round 1 advance to the final round, where the fastest of the final 12 wins the pole.

“We applaud NASCAR for its willingness and commitment to make the competition stronger throughout the year by its continued improvement for the betterment of the sport,” said Michigan track president Roger Curtis.

More Eldora entries

Former Cup series champion Brad Keselowski, NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader and brothers Austin and Ty Dillon are among the latest drivers to announce they are entering Wednesday’s Truck series race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

Austin Dillon, a former champion in the Truck and Xfinity series, won the inaugural Truck series race at Eldora in 2013.

Also entered in the event are Bobby Pierce, the 2015 UMP DIRTCar Late Model Summernationals champion and Christopher Bell, a USAC champion and World of Outlaws winner.

Harvick an award winner

Kevin Harvick won the 2015 ESPY award this week for “Best Driver.” He is the first Cup series driver to win the award since Tony Stewart in 2012. IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay won the award the past two seasons.

Other nominees this season were Erica Enders-Stevens from NHRA, Lewis Hamilton from Formula One and Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power from IndyCar.

Good to be home

Leavine Family Racing, which fields the No. 95 Ford in the Cup series, was able to move back to its shop in Concord this week. The shop suffered extensive damage in a fire in early May.

The team had temporarily worked out of Team Penske facilities in Mooresville during the interim.

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