Denny Hamlin, four-time winner at the ‘Tricky Triangle’, scored the pole for the 33rd annual Pocono 400 with a fast lap of 181. 415 mph and a time of 49.610 seconds. Hamlin broke Jimmie Johnson’s previous track record of 180.654 mph and 49.819 seconds set in August 2013.
This is Hamlin’s 19th pole in 304 Cup races, his second pole of the season and his third pole at Pocono Raceway. Hamlin’s previous two Pocono poles resulted in victories.
“It was really good throughout each session,” the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota said. “We were not a pole winning car after practice or really I didn’t think throughout the first round. We just kept getting our car three to four tenths better every time we ran it. A little bit of that was repetition and me getting better and Darian (Grubb, crew chief) made good adjustments throughout each session.”
“Really it all worked out for us for a pole run. I’m very proud to have that especially at a race track here where track position is going to be premium,” Hamlin continued. “I’m looking forward to Sunday now.”
As at most tracks, Hamlin acknowledged that the first pit stall was one of the most important perks of having that pole run, however, shared a caveat that the first pit stall was better under the yellow flag than the green at Pocono.
“The number one pit stop is really good on yellow flag stops but it hurts you a little bit on the green flag stops simply because you don’t have the momentum exiting pit road,” Hamlin said. “But we’ll take it as most of the stops we will be doing will be on yellow flag positions. As tough as passing is, it’s better to be up front than battle through the traffic.”
Hamlin also credited his qualifying success with the fact that he felt the track was beginning to age a bit, thanks to the temperature changes and the weather. And for Hamlin, that edge could be just the ticket to another ‘w’ under his belt.
“As the track is wearing in, we’re starting to get our edge back,” Hamlin said. “Typically when you have a car that can get the pole, it tells me we have all the parts and pieces in the car to be successful here.”
Kurt Busch, behind the wheel of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, qualified in the runner up spot by just two one thousandths of a second. Busch qualified second with a speed of 181.408 mph and a time of 49.612 seconds and scored his fifth top ten start of the season.
“It was a great run for our Haas Automation Chevy,” Busch said. “We came here with a new approach and to try to get our front ends to settle into the race track a little better. This track can lead to finding some comfort with how smooth it is from the repave.”
“I was really surprised we had the speed for the pole,” Busch continued. “It’s great to be able to cash in on our first attempt to try a little something different.”
“It’s just nice to confirm a change on the car and see it go in the right direction.”
The third position in qualifying was secured by Brad Keselowski, with a speed of 181.316 mph and a time of 49.637 seconds. This was Keselowski’s second top-10 start at Pocono and the thirteenth pole for Team Penske in 2014.
“We were just all really close on speed,” the driver of the No. 2 Redd’s Ford said. “I didn’t think Denny was that quick but I knew by the second round that Kurt was. We put up a decent lap but just a tiny bit short. On a two and a half mile track, that’s pretty dang close.”
“I’m proud of the efforts qualifying each and every week,” Keselowski said. “It’s certainly helpful and I’m sure we will get a great pit stall which is always important to us.”
Kevin Harvick, in the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driving the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet rounded out the top five in qualifying, with speeds of 180.832 and 180.513 mph respectively.
All of the manufacturers were well represented in Pocono qualifying, with Kyle Busch’s Toyota in the sixth spot and then the Ford of Logano, the Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the Toyota of Brian Vickers and the Ford of Carl Edwards completing the top ten.
With just 0.562 seconds separating the tenth place qualifier, Carl Edwards, in that tenth spot in his No. 99 Kellogg’s/Cheez-It Ford, summed it up best.
“That was some pretty tight competition there,” Edwards said. “The track, the cars run really well here so if you make one small mistake it is really amplified because there is so much time on the throttle.”
“That is a tough qualifying session.”
2014 NSCS Pocono 400 Starting Lineup
|1||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Ground Toyota||49.61||181.415|
|2||41||Kurt Busch||Haas Automation Chevrolet||49.612||181.408|
|3||2||Brad Keselowski||Redd’s Ford||49.637||181.316|
|4||4||Kevin Harvick||Budweiser Chevrolet||49.77||180.832|
|5||24||Jeff Gordon||Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet||49.858||180.513|
|6||18||Kyle Busch||M&M’s Peanut Butter Toyota||49.873||180.458|
|7||22||Joey Logano||Shell Pennzoil Ford||50.048||179.827|
|8||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||National Guard Chevrolet||50.121||179.565|
|9||55||Brian Vickers||Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota||50.126||179.548|
|10||99||Carl Edwards||Kelloggs/Cheez-It Ford||50.172||179.383|
|11||3||Austin Dillon #||Dow Chevrolet||50.188||179.326|
|12||14||Tony Stewart||Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet||50.244||179.126|
|13||16||Greg Biffle||3M Ford||50.207||179.258|
|14||42||Kyle Larson #||Target Chevrolet||50.215||179.229|
|15||31||Ryan Newman||Wix Filters Chevrolet||50.259||179.072|
|16||10||Danica Patrick||GoDaddy Chevrolet||50.265||179.051|
|17||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Furniture Row Chevrolet||50.286||178.976|
|18||1||Jamie McMurray||Cushman/Cessna Chevrolet||50.302||178.919|
|19||15||Clint Bowyer||RK Motors Charlotte Toyota||50.342||178.777|
|20||48||Jimmie Johnson||Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet||50.37||178.678|
|21||47||AJ Allmendinger||Clorox Chevrolet||50.48||178.288|
|22||43||Aric Almirola||Nathan’s Famous Ford||50.521||178.144|
|23||27||Paul Menard||Moen/Menards Chevrolet||50.553||178.031|
|24||51||Justin Allgaier #||BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet||50.765||177.288|
|25||13||Casey Mears||GEICO Chevrolet||50.549||178.045|
|26||20||Matt Kenseth||Dollar General Toyota||50.571||177.968|
|27||5||Kasey Kahne||Great Clips Chevrolet||50.588||177.908|
|28||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Zest Ford||50.61||177.83|
|29||9||Marcos Ambrose||Stanley Ford||50.801||177.162|
|30||7||Michael Annett #||Pilot Flying J Chevrolet||51.047||176.308|
|31||40||Landon Cassill(i)||Newtown Building Supplies Inc. Chevrolet||51.129||176.025|
|32||34||David Ragan||Taco Bell Ford||51.159||175.922|
|33||32||Travis Kvapil||Corvetteparts.net Ford||51.175||175.867|
|34||23||Alex Bowman #||Dr.Pepper Toyota||51.231||175.675|
|35||38||David Gilliland||Long John Silver’s Ford||51.249||175.613|
|36||36||Reed Sorenson||Theme Park Connection Chevrolet||51.441||174.958|
|37||98||Josh Wise||Phil Parsons Racing Ford||Owner Points|
|38||44||JJ Yeley(i)||All City Leasing & Warehousing Chevrolet||Owner Points|
|39||66||Timmy Hill||Land Castle Title Toyota||Owner Points|
|40||26||Cole Whitt #||Burger King Toyota||Owner Points|
|41||83||Ryan Truex #||Burger King Toyota||Owner Points|
|42||33||Alex Kennedy||Dream Factory Chevrolet||Owner Points|
|43||77||Dave Blaney||AmyFchlrVtrnsLwAttrnyLLC/valor4vets.cm Frd||Owner Points|
(i) Ineligible for Driver Points in this Series, # Denotes Rookie
Source: Timing and Scoring provided by NASCAR Media/NASCAR Statistics
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