NASCAR & Auto Racing

Rain puts Kyle Busch, rest of the Chasers up front

LOUDON, N.H. - Kyle Busch gets the first starting spot and Joey Logano finally gets one.

Rain washed out Sprint Cup qualifying for the second straight week giving Busch, the series points leader, the pole for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and he hopes a leg up on his fellow contenders for the championship in the 10-race Chase.

In his two previous starts to the Chase the past two years, Busch finished 38th and fourth. His fourth last season helped get him off to a strong start in the championship race, which ended with a career-best fifth-place finish in points.

Busch and his No. 18 Toyota team struggled in Friday's lone practice session so he welcomed the bump to the front.

"Last time we were here we started so far back and we had a hard time passing and moving up front," Busch said. "We just couldn't get anywhere. We were stuck from 14th to 16th to 18th all day long and couldn't go anywhere.

"I feel like starting up front now with a decent car we should be able to hold on to track position a little bit better, whereas some of those other guys that are starting around us, it might be a little bit of a struggle for them, too."

Despite the bad weather, Logano - thanks to a late-week move to Hall of Fame Racing's No. 96 Toyota - gets to make his much-anticipated Cup debut. He planned to debut last weekend at Richmond, Va., in a fourth Cup car entered by Joe Gibbs Racing but did not make the field when qualifying was canceled.

In fact, Logano is using the same car he did at Richmond. It's just repainted with a new number and sponsor logos.

"The car was really good there. It was a good top-10 car in practice. We've got most of the same guys (on the crew) and we have some of the Hall of Fame guys here, too," Logano said.

"I was more nervous going into the Nationwide Series (debut) than I am the Cup series I think because the Nationwide Series was more unknown to me. Here, I feel like I know what I'm getting into."

Although he only turned 18 this year, Logano has logged thousands of miles testing JGR Cup cars over the past two years.

"I think the biggest part of this weekend is going to be to gain respect from all those guys because we will be against those guys for a long time," he said.

Logano was recently named to replace Tony Stewart in JGR's No. 20 Toyota beginning next season. This week, Wally Brown, who heads JGR’s research and development team, will serve as Logano's crew chief.

With Sunday's lineup set mostly by car owner points, the 12 drivers competing in the Chase will all get to start up front, which should provide an added spark to the Chase's first race.

Tony Raines and Carl Long were the only drivers who did not make the field.

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