Kurt Busch brought the same car to Pocono that he raced at Texas. He won the pole at the 1.5 mil oval and on Friday, he picked up his third pole of the 2015 season with an average speed of 177.599 mph. This is Busch’s second pole at the “Tricky Triangle” in his 28th-career start at the historic venue.
This might come to a surprise to some because the No. 41 was only 20th fastest on the speed charts in the first practice. Unlike most of the Hendrick affiliated cars, he was low on the speed chart. However, Pocono has always been one of Busch’s best tracks whether it is qualifying or the race.
“The first few laps in practice we were down in the 51.30’s and the setup that we brought just did not fit this track today,” Busch said in his post-qualifying press conference. “It is an incredible day. It’s so surprising yet so satisfying that that we won the pole.”
Carl Edwards will sit alongside Busch on the front row come Sunday afternoon. In the past couple of weeks the No. 19 Toyota has shown a lot of speed as he won the Coca-Cola 600 though it was on fuel millage but has started in the top three in two out of the last three races.
“The third run we had was the best run we had all day,” Edwards said after qualifying second. “The car is fast, and we’ll get a good pit selection and hopefully we can stay with them on the restarts.”
Martin Truex, Jr. continued his hot-start to the season as he will lime-up Sunday from the third position on Sunday. Pocono has never been one of Truex’s best tracks but in 2015 it doesn’t seem to matter as he is a factor week-in and week-out.
Six-time Pocono winner, Jeff Gordon will start fourth and Kevin Harvick rounds out the top five.
Harvick was the quickest in the first two rounds of qualifying but couldn’t close out and sweep the three rounds of qualifying. Harvick is still looking for his first career win at Pocono.
“We were fastest in practice, we’ll win on Sunday,” Harvick said with confidence following the final round of qualifying.
Towards the end of the final round of qualifying Denny Hamlin spun out on his hot lap and there were five cars who had yet to go out and complete a final lap. Along with Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne all ran out of time as there were only 39 seconds left in qualifying. These drivers would not be able to make another run because by rule one has to start the lap before time expires and there was simply not enough time to get back around and start a lap before the red and black flags came out.
“It takes 59 seconds to get from pit road back around to the finish line said pole sitter Kurt Busch. “I was unaware that the clock stopped because I was looking out of my windshield.”
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will have some work to do on Sunday as he will start from the 20th position. Earnhardt was in the top-10 in the first round of qualifying and then failed to make the final 12 to advance to the third and final round. In 2014, the No. 88 swept both races at Pocono though that was with Steve Letarte atop the pit box. Earnhardt will be looking to record third straight win at Pocono on Sunday.
After starting in the top-10 each of the last three races, Greg Biffle will start from the 27th position on Sunday. It looked as though Roush Fenway Racing had turned the corner and finally got some speed. However, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the quickest Roush Ford in 17th.
Alongside Biffle sits Tony Stewart. Pocono is undoubtedly one of Stewart’s best career tracks. Last year it was this race that turned his season around, but after hitting the inside wall of opening practice it has really set back the No. 14 team. Stewart will look to win his third race at Pocono and first since 2009.
There were 43 cars for 43 spots and no one was sent home.