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Johnson grabs Pocono pole

  • bob ford/times news Jimmie Johnson in the Lowes No. 48 Chevrolet broke a track record at Pocono Speedway on Friday and earned the pole position for Sunday's 400
    bob ford/times news Jimmie Johnson in the Lowes No. 48 Chevrolet broke a track record at Pocono Speedway on Friday and earned the pole position for Sunday's 400
Published August 03. 2013 09:03AM

Inclement weather put a damper on qualifying at the June race at Pocono Speedway.

Mother Nature once again had an impact on qualifying Friday, however it wasn't rain that affected the racing this time around. Cloud cover yes, that's right cloud cover was the big story on Friday at Pocono International Raceway.

An abundance of clouds, cooled the track down enough to help drivers hit speeds that have never been seen before at Pocono in Sprint Cup competition.

Penske driver Joey Logano set the previous track record with a speed of 179.598 mph back at the June race in 2012. Logano was racing for Joe Gibbs Racing at that time and also took home the victory in that race.

Logano's record is no more after five drivers broke his previous mark on Friday.

Topping that list is five time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, who turned in a lap speed of 180.654 mph to capture the Coors Light Pole for the 400 at Pocono Raceway.

Johnson is no stranger to success at Pocono. "Five time" has an average finish of 8.7 in 23 races at Pocono and also swept both races at Pocono back in 2004. More importantly, Johnson won the June race at Pocono, also from the pole. All in all this is Johnson's third pole in his career at Pocono.

"Track records are cool," said Johnson. "We got one earlier this year at Martinsville and it just puts a smile on your crew's face when it's all said and done. I knew my lap was fast I just didn't know how fast. As each corner approached I got a little more aggressive with my entry speed and I was really challenging the car. Thankfully, the car stuck in the corners and it was just an awesome lap."

Coming off a frustrating loss at Indianapolis last week, a race that Johnson dominated for most of the day, the driver of the Lowes No. 48 Chevrolet is looking to not let this race slip away if he dominates like he did last week.

"It's frustrating more than anything," said Johnson. "I mean you hate to give away race wins for whatever reason, especially when you have the dominate car. Whatever the mistake may be and whether it comes from driver or team you just hate having that on your shoulders for the week following. You are just eager to get on track and get that behind you."

Johnson was actually late getting to the qualifying as the left rear tow on the car was off one thousandth of an inch in pre-qualifying inspection. Johnson and his team were put on the final five minute clock to either get to pit lane in that time frame or he would have start from the rear. Johnson obviously made it, but some drivers aren't too happy about Johnson's coming out later than his scheduled slot.

"A lot of these other teams figure out how to follow all the rules, except for one," said Joe Gibbs driver Kyle Busch. "There's been some times this year where they've gone through inspection late and everytime they're late they're fast. Maybe we should be late once in a while."

Johnson believes that his late arrival to qualifying didn't have much of an affect on his pole-winning run.

"I wish there was a master plan behind it all. It's actually pretty stressful going through all that, running down pit road, trying to get my helmet on and everything. Anybody who wants to try it go ahead," said Johnson. "Coming out just four spots later really didn't affect anything. Actually, I think it's pretty awesome that we've been able to be so fast after going through some of those issues during inspection."

Whether showing up late to the party helped Johnson or not, Friday's qualifying showed what everybody already knows. Jimmie Johnson is fast, he's consistent, and once again he's the driver to beat.

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