Elliott Fastest In New Hampshire

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LOUDON, N.H. – Bill Elliott really has been awesome in qualifying lately, but he’s missed out on a pole.

That changed Friday at New Hampshire International Speedway, where Elliott put his No. 9 Dodge on the pole for Sunday’s New England 300. Elliott turned a fast lap of 131.469 mph to win his third pole of the season in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

“I owe it to the guys,” Elliott said. “They changed a lot of stuff before qualifying came around, and they put it all together. This business is all about teamwork and putting things together. I’m very proud of what this group has done. We went to Indy and worked very hard for two days, and they came back and put a good piece under me here.

“They kept nipping away at it. I think we changed three springs, a couple of swaybars and was able to sit on the pole. That’s the way Loudon is. Sometimes you hit it, and sometimes you don’t.”

Elliott also moved ahead of Cale Yarborough for all-time superspeedway poles. Elliott, who has 47 superspeedway poles, is second only to David Pearson in NASCAR history. Pearson has 58 superspeedway poles.

Elliott is sixth on the all-time pole winners list with 54. He’s three behind Bobby Allison and five behind Darrell Waltrip.

Elliott edged Mike Skinner, who went 131.175, for the top spot.

“You don’t mind missing a putt by a foot. But when you miss one that close, it kinda makes you mad a little bit,” Skinner said. “I’m happy for the Kodak team. They did a good job tuning the car up. We’ve had some tough times. Hopefully some good times are ahead for us.”

Rusty Wallace was third, with Bobby Labonte – the final car to qualify – fourth. Dave Blaney held the pole for a while but ended up fifth.

Matt Kenseth qualified sixth, followed by rookie Ryan Newman, Ricky Rudd, Ricky Craven and Bobby Hamilton.

Since the Coca-Cola 600 at the end of May, Elliott has been fast in qualifying. He was fifth for the 600 and has started in the Top 10 in seven of the last eight races. The one race he didn’t make the Top 10 was when he qualified 13th at Daytona.

Including in those seven qualifying efforts were a second at Dover, a third at Chicago, a fourth at Michigan and fifths at Charlotte and Sears Point.

John Andretti was fastest in practice but could only manage the 27th fastest speed in qualifying.

Haas-Carter Motorsports fielded two cars for only the fourth time this season. The team entered the No. 66 for Geoffrey Bodine, but Dennis Setzer qualified the car 43rd Friday. That’s because Bodine was qualifying the No. 26 Ford for younger brother Todd, who was at Gateway International Raceway to qualify a Busch Series car. The No. 26 starts 32nd Sunday.

Kevin Harvick, last week’s winner at Chicagoland Speedway, was 24th Friday.

Steve Park and Elliott Sadler crashed in practice and qualified backup cars. Park’s backup qualified 22nd, while Sadler’s was 39th.

The New England 300 gets the green flag Sunday at 2 p.m.

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