Speeds picked up at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., on Friday between NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice and pole qualifying for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 at the track, as several front runners in qualifying bettered their practice speeds by more than a second when qualifying time rolled around. Among those was eventual pole winner Jimmie Johnson. Johnson turned in a 49.819-second lap during qualifying to set a new track record and claim the pole for Sunday’s race. Despite the record-setting lap, Johnson felt he could do better.
“Well, I went over a second faster than what I did in practice,” Johnson said. “Another shot at it, I think I could polish up my lap and flow a little bet better. It took everything I threw at it, and then it made me question if there might be a little bit more.”
Kyle Busch posted the second-fastest lap with a time of 49.823 seconds to claim the front row starting spot next to Johnson.
“I thought that the Peanut Butter M&Ms Camry was really, really fast today,” Busch said. “First practice went well for us and one run we got a little bit off base, but then we backed it right back up with the third run and we were pretty good. So we were excited going into qualifying.”
Although Busch made his qualifying attempt early in the session, later was better for some of his fellow competitors, including Carl Edwards, who qualified third.
“We got very fortunate with our draw,” Edwards said. “The track was getting faster and faster, so that was very good for us. We didn’t expect to pick up that much, so that was a nice surprise to drive down into turn one and have that much grip.”
Ryan Newman qualified fourth, and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Sixth through 10th in qualifying were Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose, Denny Hamlin and Aric Almirola.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR