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Johnson Claims Pocono Pole

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, August 2 2013

Crew chief Chad Knaus and driver Jimmie Johnson will start from the pole this weekend. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

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Jimmie Johnson won the pole for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway with a track-record run at 180.654 mph (49.019 seconds), .004 seconds faster than the lap recorded by Kyle Busch.

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’s qualifying run was moved back after his car had to go through the inspection line a second time.

“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 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.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, August 2 2013
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