After a two-day test Wednesday and Thursday and a couple of practice sessions on Friday that saw speeds of more than five mph faster than typical track speeds at the newly paved Pocono Raceway, pole qualifying on Saturday for Sunday’s Pocono 400 didn’t get off to such a smooth start.
Reed Sorenson went out first and lost fuel pressure during the second lap of his qualifying attempt. Then Tony Raines went out in the No. 36, normally driven by Dave Blaney, who was filling in behind the wheel of the No. 10 normally driven by David Reutimann, who was behind the No. 51 usually driven by the suspended Kurt Busch.
“When I went out there to come back around to take the green, I saw how wide it was (the Stay Dry on the race track),” Sorenson said. “Fortunately, we’re locked in the show here. If I wasn’t locked in the show, I would not have been too excited about sailing it off into one there, but we could go pretty easy through there just because we didn’t have to take any chances.”
It was determined after the first two cars went out, that there was too much Stay Dry on the track, and that the surface should be swept and blown off. After a delay for track cleanup, the third car of Scott Riggs went out.
The track still didn’t seem right, so qualifying was halted again for some 45 minutes for additional cleaning in turn one where an ARCAR Racing Series car blew an engine during that series’ practice on Friday night.
Once qualifying got back going, the track seemed to get back to normal with each car that made its way onto the track. By the end of the session, 36 cars beat the old track qualifying record.
Even so, a driver fairly early on in the qualifying session posted the best lap, good enough for the pole. Joey Logano’s 50.112-second lap put him on the provisional pole early on and he remained there until the end.
“Great car,” Logano said. “(Crew chief) Jason’s (Ratcliff) done a great job with this thing.”
Even so, Logano didn’t expect his lap would hold up for the pole come Sunday.
“I feel like a left a couple of tenths out there,” Logano said after his qualifying run, hoping then that the time would just be good enough for a top-five starting spot.
Logano will be joined on the front row by Carl Edwards on Sunday. Paul Menard and Kyle Busch will line up on on the second row.
All three Joe Gibbs Racing entries claimed top-five starting spots, with Logano on the pole, Busch fourth and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top-five in qualifying.
Forty-four cars made qualifying runs to attempt to claim the 43 available starting spots for the Pocono 400. David Stremme was the one driver who failed to qualify.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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