Jimmie Johnson found more speed in his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet between practice and qualifying on Friday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., and turned in a lap time of 49.819 seconds to claim the pole starting spot for Sunday's GoBowling.com 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. Even though Johnson surpassed his practice times and set a new track qualifying record, he felt he could have done better in qualifying.
"Well, I went over a second faster than what I did in practice," Johnson said. "Another shot at it, I think I could polish up my lap and flow a little bit better. It took everything I threw at it, and then it made me question if there might be a little bit more."
The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch qualified second with a lap time of 49.823 seconds to join Johnson on the front row come Sunday. The No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Carl Edwards was third in qualifying after going out late in the session.
"We got very fortunate with our draw," Edwards said. "The track was getting faster and faster, so that was very good for us. We didn't expect to pick up that much, so that was a nice surprise to drive down into turn one and have that much grip."
Edwards will be joined on the second row by the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman, who qualified fourth.
"It was a good lap," Newman said. "We picked up over a second from what we practiced."
Qualifying in the top-five at Pocono was a family affair for the Busch clan, as Kyle Busch's older brother, Kurt Busch, rounded out the top-five from behind the wheel of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet. Qualifying sixth through 10th were the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Joey Logano, the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Greg Biffle, the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Marcos Ambrose, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Aric Almirola.
Only 43 drivers made qualifying attempts, the exact number needed for a full race field, so all who make qualifying attempts on Friday are expected to start the race on Sunday.