Kyle Busch is doing something in NASCAR history that is hard to be conquered. The driver of the No. 18 has won four out-of-the last five races and on Friday at Pocono he won his first pole of 2015.
Of course all of his glory has come after missing the first 11 races of 2015 which makes it pretty remarkable that he currently sits just 23 points outside of the top 30 in the Sprint Cup Series standings. Busch has never won at Pocono but he will lead the field to green on Sunday.
“We just continue week-in and week-out to do the right things,” Busch said in the media center. “We just kept making the right adjustments and never got complacement with what he had. I feel like we can make it better and certainly feel like we did that in qualifying and we were able to run a real fast lap there at the end.”
Busch was fast in the first two rounds, but he didn’t post a lap that could run in the top five. That changed in Round 3 when Busch laid down the fastest lap of the day with a speed of 178.416 mph.
The driver gave a lot of the credit to his team. In opening practice on Friday morning Busch was eighth quickest. All four of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars were in the top 11 in practice. However, Busch wasn’t very confident heading into qualifying.
“I wasn’t confident that we were going to win the pole,” he said. “We did have good speed but just with how the car was driving it was kind of erratic. We seemed to have gotten things calmed down a little bit; the car seems to be settling in. Things are really looking good for our No. 18 car and hopefully tomorrow we can get it fine tuned and ready for Sunday.”
Kevin Harvick will line up on the front row alongside Busch. Harvick was quickest in the second round and is coming off back-to-back second place finishes at the “Tricky Triangle”.
Joey Logano will start from the third position on Sunday. The former Pocono winner is looking for his second victory of the year after beginning the season with a Daytona 500 trophy. Logano has finished in the top 10 at Pocono in four out-of-the- five races that he has driven with Team Penske.
“They fixed it,” Logano said of how he rebounded from a disappointing practice run. “It seems to take a long time to build chemistry with a team like this, but we’ve done it. I’m proud of what we achieved today.”
Austin Dillon will begin Sunday’s race from the fourth position. This marks Dillon’s first top-five starting spot in 2015. The driver of the No. 3 has achieved a lot in his brief career at Pocono. He’s won a Camping World Truck Series race and has one top 10 finish to his credit in three Cup races at the triangle. He is ready for Sunday.
“I was really happy with that,” Dillon said of his qualifying lap. “I wish we wouldn’t have had to run twice in the second round. That probably hurt us a little bit, but that’s the best qualifying run for us all year so that’s a great start. We just keep getting better and better every time that we come here.”
Tony Stewart will start fifth. This marks the first time in a long time that “Smoke” has qualified in the top five in consecutive weeks. Stewart will look to turn his season around on Sunday at one of his better tracks.
Six-time Pocono winner Jeff Gordon will start his last race at Pocono from the 10th position. Gordon has had a lot of success at Pocono and he will look to go out on top and clinch his position into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
June winner, Martin Truex Jr. will have a little more work to do on Sunday then he did in his triumphant win. Truex led 97 laps in June and is coming off of his first top 10 finish since Michigan, the week after the first Pocono race. Truex will look to become just the ninth driver to sweep the year and win both races at the “Tricky Triangle”.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. swept both race at Pocono in 2014 and he will start from the 15th position. In June, Earnhardt had one of the better cars but was unable to seek his third straight victory at Pocono.
Last year’s pole winner Kyle Larson will have a lot of track position to gain on Sunday after qualifying a disappointing 27th. Larson will need a win in the next six races to make the Chase.
Strategy will be a key on Sunday as many teams are desperate to win and get into the Chase. But the biggest question of the weekend is will Busch win four straight races? This particular Pocono race has the setup to be a classic.