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Qualifying rainout puts Stewart on pole

Q rainout puts Stewart on New Hampshire pole
Tony Stewart will start on the pole for the second time this season tomorrow after rain washed out qualifying for Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway - and this time he'll actually get to start the race at the front of the field too.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup points' leader was awarded the pole at Pocono in June but had to start from the rear of the field after spinning out and damaging his primary car during practice. Because Stewart went to a back-up car after the starting field was set according to rainout rules, he had to drop to the back. Undeterred, Stewart drove through the field to claim his first win as owner/driver for Stewart-Haas Racing.

After a spin and contact with the Turn 2 wall during Friday's practice at NHMS, Stewart again will go to a back-up car for Sunday's race, but that won't cost him the top starting spot since the accident occurred before rain hit the track and washed out the scheduled qualifying session.

Stewart's team put the engine from his primary car into the back-up, apparently believing that was necessary to conform to NASCAR's one-engine rule.

However, Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said the engine change was not required when the team went to the back-up car. Still, the bottom line is that Stewart will start up front.

With the top 35 positions set according to owner points, Jeff Gordon will start second, with Jimmie Johnson third and Kurt Busch fourth.

Carl Edwards will take the green flag in fifth, followed by Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya.

"I just got loose going into the corner," Stewart said of Friday's practice mishap. "Goodyear came down and was worried, but it wasn't a tyre problem.

“I just got loose, and once I got out of the groove, I was staying right with it. I just needed another 50 feet to finish getting gathered up and sliding up. I just ran out of racetrack."

With fewer qualifying attempts than other teams without guaranteed starting positions, Dexter Bean and Ted Christopher failed to make the 43-car field. Regan Smith's #78 Chevrolet was the last car in the race, after the last-minute withdrawal of the #64 Toyota, which would have made the field with driver Mike Wallace.


by Reid Spencer



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