Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch will lead the field to the green flag at Pocono on Sunday.
JGR's Denny Hamlin earned his second pole of the 2014 Sprint Cup season Friday at Pocono. He's won the pole here on two previous occasions and went on to win both of those races. Kurt Busch qualified second, which stands as his first front start since he joined Stewart-Haas Racing. Below is a complete qualifying recap.
A.J. Allmendinger jumped ahead of everyone else and became the first driver to lay down a lap during qualifying Friday. Partway through the session, Dave Blaney had a wild ride when his No. 77 machine went spinning in the first corner. He was able to keep it off the wall and will make the field with only 43 cars present for this race. 'The Buckeye Bullet' will start last however.
Alex Bowman tried in a last-ditch effort to improve his time but it was to no avail. Rookie Kyle Larson was the final driver to advance to the next round, just edging out Casey Mears. Notables Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne missed a chance to participate in the second round and will start deep in the field (26th and 27th).
As I alluded to earlier, only 43 teams are at Pocono this weekend so there were no DNQ's.
The second round went incident-free and as the clock closed in on zero, it was rookie Austin Dillon who sat on the hot seat. Multiple drivers including six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson and Austin's ROTY rival Kyle Larson tried and failed to knock him out of the final twelve.
In his pursuit of a third consecutive victory, Jimmie Johnson will start a shocking 20th. Afterwards, he blamed himself saying, "I feel bad for my guys but this one's on me." He elaborated by saying that he had a great turn one and got a bit overzealous and greedy, causing him to blow turn two.
The final twelve drivers who were given a chance to battle for pole position were Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., & Carl Edwards.
Kevin Harvick jumped to the top of the board first but was overtaken by Brad Keselowski and then suddenly, Denny Hamlin. His quick lap was partly contributed to a bit of a draft he got off of Brad Keselowski's car and no one was able to match his time in the closing seconds of Q3.
Hamlin's record setting lap time of 49.610 seconds (181.415mph) was just 2/1000ths of a second quicker than Kurt Busch who mounted a late charge.
For Hamlin, it's his 19th career pole start at the Sprint Cup level, his second this season, and his third here. Kurt Busch will start alongside in what is his best starting position of the 2014 season.
The entire top ten qualifiers are as follows - Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers, and Carl Edwards.