Jimmie Johnson claimed a second Pocono pole of the season in qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s return to the “Tricky Triangle.”
Whereas last time a rainout sealed Johnson’s top spot on the grid, this time it was a new record lap of 49.819 seconds and 180.654mph that put the Hendrick Chevrolet a scant 0.004sec ahead of Kyle Busch’s Joe Gibbs Toyota.
The result was a shock to Johnson, who had been over a second slower in practice and also needed two attempts to get through technical inspection due to the toe issue on the left rear.
The championship leader dominated the Cup series’ last visit to Pocono in June. Johnson has already won four times this season and leads the standings by a huge 75 points approaching the Chase cut-off.
Carl Edwards jumped to third late in the qualifying order, demoting Indianapolis winner Ryan Newman to the outside row two spot.
Kurt Busch again impressed with his qualifying pace as he put Furniture Row’s Chevrolet fifth.
Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose, Denny Hamlin and Aric Almirola completed the top 10, followed by champion Brad Keselowski.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 49.819s 2. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 49.823s +0.004s 3. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 49.950s +0.131s 4. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 49.999s +0.180s 5. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet 50.085s +0.266s 6. Joey Logano Penske Ford 50.111s +0.292s 7. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 50.130s +0.311s 8. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 50.187s +0.368s 9. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 50.239s +0.420s10. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 50.253s +0.434s11. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 50.297s +0.478s12. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 50.322s +0.503s13. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 50.373s +0.554s14. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 50.418s +0.599s15. AJ Allmendinger Phoenix Chevrolet 50.420s +0.601s16. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 50.446s +0.627s17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 50.487s +0.668s18. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 50.488s +0.669s19. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 50.546s +0.727s20. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 50.553s +0.734s21. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 50.567s +0.748s22. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 50.659s +0.840s23. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 50.678s +0.859s24. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 50.702s +0.883s25. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 50.721s +0.902s26. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 50.779s +0.960s27. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 50.784s +0.965s28. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota 50.850s +1.031s29. Casey Mears Germain Ford 50.864s +1.045s30. David Ragan Front Row Ford 50.894s +1.075s31. David Stremme Swan Toyota 50.899s +1.080s32. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 51.059s +1.240s33. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 51.108s +1.289s34. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 51.177s +1.358s35. David Reutimann BK Toyota 51.211s +1.392s36. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet 51.376s +1.557s37. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 51.415s +1.596s38. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet 51.462s +1.643s39. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 51.696s +1.877s40. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 51.815s +1.996s41. Timmy Hill FAS Lane Ford 52.305s +2.486s42. Alex Kennedy Humphrey Smith Toyota 53.286s +3.467s43. Tony Raines Circle Sport Chevrolet 53.960s +4.141s