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Johnson wins pole in Pocono

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Friday, August 02, 2013

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Planes Chevrolet, stands on the grid after qualifying on the pole
Getty Images for NASCAR
The clouds rolled in right on cue and Jimmie Johnson rolled out to the grid--late to Friday’s qualifying session at Pocono Raceway.

Inspection issues delayed Johnson’s arrival at the head of the qualifying queue and just may have been a contributing factor in the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet SS winning the pole for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 with a track-record run at 180.654 mph (49.019 seconds), .004 seconds faster than the lap recorded by Kyle Busch.

Johnson had drawn the 24th qualifying position but was the 28th driver to make a run during time trials, after his team hastily pushed the car to the front of the grid. The few minutes Johnson gained from the difficulty getting through tech allowed the track to cool that much more--and a cooler track generally translates to higher speed.

The pole was Johnson’s second of the season, his third at Pocono and the 31st of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. In addition to Johnson and Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards (180.180 mph), Ryan Newman (180.004 mph), Kurt Busch (179.695 mph) and Joey Logano (179.601 mph) all broke the previous record of 179.598 mph set by Logano in June 2012.

Johnson rewards new sponsor with pole. He gained well over 1-second from practice to qualifying. How about that!
Johnson didn’t believe that going out four spots later made a difference in his qualifying performance. In his view, any possible advantage would have been offset by the pressure of getting through inspection and beating the five-minute clock to the top of the grid.

"Only four spots, no, it wouldn’t have made a difference," Johnson said. "We had a left rear toe (tire angle) was off by a thousandth of an inch. The system is pass-fail… a thousandth of an inch. I’m glad we got it sorted out.

"We got on the clock, which is always a scary thing, but we beat the clock."

Going out eighth on a warmer track, Kyle Busch was the first driver to top 180 mph, posting a lap at 180.639 mph (49.823 seconds). Though he thought Johnson’s late draw in general was more of a factor than the four spots he gained in the order, Busch did insinuate that the 48 team might be gaming the system.

"Probably not the clock that he was on, I don’t think that made much difference, but just the draw that he had, being 20 cars later in general than us, I think that was certainly beneficial to him," Busch said. "A lot of these other teams figure out how to play by the rules. It seems like there’s one that is sometimes late, quite often more than the rest.

Similarly, Johnson, the series leader, was late at New Hampshire Motor Speedway three weeks ago and qualified second, but his time was disallowed because the ride height was deemed too low in post-qualifying inspection. But Johnson said Friday that the inspection issues weren’t by design.

"I wish there was some master plan behind it all--but they’re welcome to try it," Johnson said. "They’re welcome to experience the stress. My heart was pounding out of my chest, trying to get in the car and beat the clock. I don’t wish that kind of stress on anybody."

The winner of the June race at the Tricky Triangle, Johnson can become the first driver to sweep both events in the same year twice at the 2.5-mile track. One of six drivers to accomplish the Pocono double, Johnson recorded his first season sweep in 2004.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 25th on Sunday, and Danica Patrick will take the green flag in 34th.

Lineup

Pos Driver Car Make Sponsor Speed Time Behind
1 Jimmie Johnson 48 Chevrolet Lowe's Planes 180.654 49.819 Leader
2 Kyle Busch 18 Toyota M&M's Peanut Butter 180.639 49.823 -0.004
3 Carl Edwards 99 Ford Fastenal 180.180 49.950 -0.131
4 Ryan Newman 39 Chevrolet Haas Automation 30th Anniversary 180.004 49.999 -0.180
5 Kurt Busch 78 Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing-Denver Mattress 179.695 50.085 -0.266
6 Joey Logano 22 Ford Shell-Pennzoil 179.601 50.111 -0.292
7 Greg Biffle 16 Ford 3M 179.533 50.130 -0.311
8 Marcos Ambrose 9 Ford Stanley 179.329 50.187 -0.368
9 Denny Hamlin 11 Toyota FedEx Office 179.144 50.239 -0.420
10 Aric Almirola 43 Ford GoBowling.com 179.094 50.253 -0.434
11 Brad Keselowski 2 Ford Redd's Apple Ale 178.937 50.297 -0.478
12 Jamie McMurray 1 Chevrolet CESSNA 178.848 50.322 -0.503
13 Jeff Burton 31 Chevrolet FXI GutterClear365 178.667 50.373 -0.554
14 Kevin Harvick 29 Chevrolet Budweiser 178.508 50.418 -0.599
15 AJ Allmendinger 51 Chevrolet Phoenix Construction Services Inc. 178.501 50.420 -0.601
16 Clint Bowyer 15 Toyota Toyota Let's Go Places 178.409 50.446 -0.627
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 17 Ford Zest 178.264 50.487 -0.668
18 Kasey Kahne 5 Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 178.260 50.488 -0.669
19 Juan Pablo Montoya 42 Chevrolet Target 178.056 50.546 -0.727
20 Tony Stewart 14 Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 178.031 50.553 -0.734
21 Paul Menard 27 Chevrolet Menards / Tarkett 177.982 50.567 -0.748
22 Jeff Gordon 24 Chevrolet Drive To End Hunger 177.658 50.659 -0.840
23 Travis Kvapil 93 Toyota Burger King / Dr. Pepper 177.592 50.678 -0.859
24 Matt Kenseth 20 Toyota The Home Depot / Husky 177.508 50.702 -0.883
25 Dale Earnhardt Jr 88 Chevrolet National Guard Youth Foundation 177.441 50.721 -0.902
26 Martin Truex Jr 56 Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 177.239 50.779 -0.960
27 Michael McDowell 98 Ford Phil Parsons Racing 177.221 50.784 -0.965
28 Mark Martin 55 Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 176.991 50.850 -1.031
29 Casey Mears 13 Ford GEICO 176.942 50.864 -1.045
30 David Ragan 34 Ford Taco Bell 176.838 50.894 -1.075
31 David Stremme 30 Toyota Widow Wax 176.821 50.899 -1.080
32 Dave Blaney 7 Chevrolet TBA 176.267 51.059 -1.240
33 Bobby Labonte 47 Toyota Scott Products 176.098 51.108 -1.289
34 Danica Patrick 10 Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 175.860 51.177 -1.358
35 David Reutimann 83 Toyota Burger King / Dr. Pepper 175.743 51.211 -1.392
36 J.J. Yeley 36 Chevrolet TBA 175.179 51.376 -1.557
37 David Gilliland 38 Ford Long John Silver's 175.046 51.415 -1.596
38 Landon Cassill 40 Chevrolet Interstate Moving Services 174.886 51.462 -1.643
39 Joe Nemechek 87 Toyota TBA 174.095 51.696 -1.877
40 Josh Wise 35 Ford MDS Transport 173.695 51.815 -1.996
41 Timmy Hill 32 Ford OXY Water 172.068 52.305 -2.486
42 Alex Kennedy 19 Toyota Plinker Tactical/Hampton Inn Lehighton 168.900 53.286 -3.467
43 Tony Raines 33 Chevrolet LittleJoe'sAuto.com 166.790 53.960 -4.141

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