NASCAR Cup Series qualifying was cancelled Saturday afternoon because of inclement weather at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Sunday’s USA Today 301 (2 p.m. ET on USA Network, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) starting lineup will instead be based on a metric including owners points, driver points, last week’s race finishing position and last week’s fastest laps.

NASCAR Cup Series championship leader, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott will start from pole position, alongside reigning series champion, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney.

“To be honest, I always feel like the [pole-winner’s] pit stall [choice] is more important than the starting spot just because you live with the pit box all day,” said Elliott, who is making his first start from pole this season – first since 2022.

“Your odds of leading 301 laps are slim to none but you live with that box all day long and that’s something that can help you all the way, get a late race caution or whatever and you can be right there in the hunt and that can be the difference in you coming off pit road first or third. And I think that’s a really important thing we see every weekend. Excited about that and really, I think, a team effort that earned that opportunity.

“It wasn’t a stellar lap on my end, it was just a solid effort by our group over the last two or three months to have us in that position to take advantage of the circumstances today.”

Hendrick’s William Byron, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman round out the top five on the starting grid.

Defending race winner, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. will roll off seventh in the 36-car field, hoping to earn his first victory of the 2024 season.

Spire Motorsports’ rookie Carson Hocevar and Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell were fastest in an abbreviated practice session that lasted only 10 minutes Saturday mid-afternoon because of rain.


Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell may have broken some big 2025 news. …accidentally. The three-time New Hampshire Xfinity Series race winner and 2022 NASCAR Cup Series winner at the track spoke with reporters Friday afternoon. In answering a question about the future leadership of the four-car JGR team with the departure of Truex at the end of the season, he slipped and appeared to confirm speculation that Truex’s replacement would be Chase Briscoe.

“It could be whoever has a good race that week – so I don’t think that there really is a leadership role in that aspect and whenever Chase comes into the car.” Bell said before cutting himself off with a grin and glance toward his JGR public relations team.

Briscoe is among the four-driver Stewart-Haas Racing stable – also Ryan Preece, Josh Berry and Noah Gragson – that is looking for a new job next year after the SHR team announced weeks ago that it would be closing down operations at the end of the 2024 season. JGR has not released any official statement regarding the next driver of its No. 19 Toyota.

Briscoe smiled Saturday during his media availability, conceding he’d received almost 100 messages on his phone Friday night after Bell’s statement – but couldn’t access them for hours because of spotty cell service at the New England dirt track where he was racing. Briscoe didn’t confirm his 2025 plans but said he expected an announcement coming soon, perhaps as early as next week.

“It was funny, Christopher texted me and was like, ‘man, I messed up so bad,’” Briscoe said smiling. “And I was like, what happened? He was like ‘go look at Twitter.’

“I couldn’t get a single text to out and couldn’t receive a text. … I didn’t really know what had happened for probably three to four hours while I was over there [racing] and then a couple people told me what happened. … It was funny, kinda weird knowing something was out there but not having any ability to see what it was or what happened. Definitely an odd night.”

Joey Logano is one of a handful of New England drivers who consider the New Hampshire mile his “home track.” And the Connecticut-native and two-time winner at the “Magic Mile” could really use some of that hometown hero juju this weekend. He is still racing for his first points-race win of the season and is currently the first driver outside the Playoff standings, ranked 17th.

Logano has a pair of victories at New Hampshire – including his career first NASCAR Cup Series win in 2009. He smiled when asked about past special memories and having his family – three young children – up in his native New England to watch him race this weekend, “I’m hoping to create one [special memory] this weekend, that would be great,” he said.

Nine races remain to set the 16-driver Playoff field with 10 race winners already guaranteed in and six positions still to be decided.

“I feel good about our chances of getting in [the Playoffs], but it’s not as comfortable as we’d want it to be for sure,” Logano said, adding, “The team does a good job of being under pressure and our team knows how to handle it because we’ve been in the Playoffs so many times and put ourselves in the Championship 4 so many times that we know how to handle these situations when your back is up against the wall.

“It’s not ever comfortable. It’s not where you want to be. It’s not fun. But it’s not out of the norm for us either to know how to handle these scenarios either.”

Martin Truex Jr.’s last NASCAR Cup Series win came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the New Jersey-native would not only love to win again at one of his “home tracks” for sentimental reasons, but a trophy this weekend would absolutely guarantee a spot for him to vie for his final series championship.

Truex announced last week in Iowa that the 2024 season would be his last fulltime campaign in the NASCAR Cup Series and the 2017 series champion would love nothing more than to make another run at the title.

The driver of the No. 19 JGR is ranked 11th in the Playoff outlook standings – the top-ranked driver without a victory to date. But New Hampshire has been one of his best tracks. He’s earned two pole positions, has the 2023 victory, nine top-five and 15 top-10 finishes and is one of only four drivers in history lead at least 1,000 laps. His 1,170 laps out front is most among all active drivers.

“Pretty relaxed, generally,” Truex insisted of his demeanor even after sharing news of his future last week. “I feel relieved that I finally made a decision after thinking about it for the last two years or whatever.

“I think winning here in general is really a big deal,” he added. “Last year was just huge for me personally and my family, and what this place has meant to us over the years. So, to finally win, it was a frustrating thing to come here year after year after year and feel like, ‘man, it got away again.’ So many times, we were in position to win and right there leading laps and things.

“It’s always been a good track for me and so just not having that win for so long, was really really frustrating. So that was a really really big one for us last year so to be able to go back-to-back would be awesome.”

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney earned his first victory of the season last weekend in the Corn 350 at Iowa Speedway. He joked this week he’s won at places that have invoked specific memories.

“I feel like this place has been fairly good for us,” Blaney said, adding with a grin, “I’ve always wanted to hold the lobster since I was a little kid so hopefully we can keep adding to our entrees. We got corn last week, could get lobster this week, trying to have a full plate of dinner. We’ll see what we can do.”

— NASCAR News Wire —