Bowyer notches fourth career Cup Series pole at Auto Club Speedway

With a time of 40.086 seconds and a speed of 179.614 mph, Kansas native Clint Bowyer qualified on the pole for this Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Raceway. Bowyer narrowly edged out fan-favorite Jimmie Johnson for the pole by 0.007 seconds. However, the qualifying run surprised the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.

“Certainly that is where you want to be,” Bowyer said. “Honestly, I didn’t really see that in the car. We didn’t run a qualifying lap yesterday. We made some changes in happy hour and the car kind of woke up and showed some speed but honestly, we were kind of focused on downforce and doing what we needed to do in traffic.”

“That being said, that thing rocketed to the top there and he told me the lap time and I was like, ‘Damn, I think that is on the pole.’ Again, the sun was coming out and that changed the qualifying day quite a bit as the sun came out and it was right before us. I was watching the Gibbs cars go and you could see on SMT with the data we have now you can visibly see everyone starting to really jerk on the wheel in the middle of one and two and get loose. I was like, ‘Oh damn, here I go. I am fixing to see the same thing.’ Sure enough, I got in there and she just kind of slid in the slot and I didn’t have to chase it up the track.”


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“I just gave it one big catch and it pointed and shot off the corner and I was able to keep the throttle down. Then you see the 48 car, the last car out, the story of his last race at home. I figured there was no way we were going to win. I was better coming to the green and then better through one and two but then all of a sudden off of two he had a really good run and got ahead of me into three and four. Honestly, he was ahead of me off of four even, but I just pulled it down just a little bit more than he did down the front straightaway and just barely got him. That is what qualifying is all about with this product where you are all but wide open. It comes down to your balance and how the car is trimmed out and things like that. It makes it interesting and nerve-wracking as well because it is all so close.”

For now, this will be Jimmie Johnson’s last race at his hometown racetrack in Southern California. The California native just almost knocked out Bowyer for the pole but had to settle for second. Despite not getting the pole, Sunday’s race will be just as special for Johnson, as his kids will get to wave the green flag to start the race.

“It will be super special,” Johnson said. “I wish we were one spot further ahead and clearly off turn four there I ran a little more distance to the start-finish. It is such a fine balance to try to understand how much you can open up and let the engine run. Clearly I did too much, but that’s just the competitor in me. Very special weekend for me and I can’t wait to see my girls up in the flag stand waving the green flag.”

There was more qualifying news as both Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. failed inspection. Busch failed twice and was still able to do a qualifying lap, while Truex failed three times and did not get to post a lap. Both Busch and Truex will be starting from the rear tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s race can be seen on FOX with a start time of 3:30 p.m. ET.

Starting lineup:

  1. Clint Bowyer
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Alex Bowman
  4. Kurt Busch, will start in the rear
  5. Kevin Harvick
  6. Aric Almirola
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Michael McDowell
  9. Kyle Larson
  10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  11. Chris Buescher
  12. Matt DiBenedetto
  13. Chase Elliott
  14. Bubba Wallace
  15. Brad Keselowski
  16. Ryan Blaney
  17. Kyle Busch
  18. Cole Custer
  19. Tyler Reddick
  20. Ryan Preece
  21. William Byron
  22. Christopher Bell
  23. John Hunter Nemechek
  24. Ty Dillon
  25. Austin Dillon
  26. Corey LaJoie
  27. Ross Chastain
  28. Denny Hamlin
  29. Erik Jones
  30. J.J. Yeley
  31. Daniel Suarez
  32. Brennan Poole
  33. Reed Sorenson
  34. Joey Gase
  35. Quin Houff
  36. Garrett Smithley
  37. Timmy Hill
  38. Martin Truex Jr. – did not make a qualifying run due to inspection failures

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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