Kahne grabs Pocono pole

Kasey Kahne hopes that his team is on to something. After winning his first race of the season two weeks ago in Charlotte, Kahne will start from the pole on Sunday after laying down a fastest lap time of 170.219 miles per hour in today's ...

Kasey Kahne hopes that his team is on to something.

After winning his first race of the season two weeks ago in Charlotte, Kahne will start from the pole on Sunday after laying down a fastest lap time of 170.219 miles per hour in today's qualifying session at Pocono.

Kahne edged defending series champion Jimmie Johnson by a little more than a tenth of a second to claim his first pole of the season. He will pace the field for Sunday's Pocono 500 (12:30 p.m. Eastern on TNT).

"It feels good," Kahne said. "This team has done a good job. We made very few adjustments -- hardly any from what we had in practice. Jimmie was so much faster than everyone else in practice so I wasn't sure, but our car is really well balanced and it felt perfect. It's a perfect race car to drive."

Kahne said that the past couple of weeks have been positive for his team after a six week stretch that saw him pick up just one top-10 finish. He was as high as third in the championship standings after a strong start, but dropped to 14th after a 22nd place finish at Darlington last month. He has moved back up to 12th and is looking for a good finish this weekend to build a pad over the cut off spot for the Chase for the Championship.

"It's good," said Kahne, whose best finish at Pocono was a third place run in 2004. "My guys have done a good job. Everybody's working hard and doing a good job. We've come a long ways from where we were a month or two ago and we'll just keep it up."

Johnson is a two-time winner at Pocono and has his best starting spot at the 2.5 mile circuit since 2003. The winner has come from the front row in four of the past five races at Pocono.

Mark Martin will start third in his fifth straight start of the season while his Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Regan Smith grabbed the best starting position of his young career when he laid down the fourth fastest time.

"We're real happy with that," Smith said. "This team and myself have been through a lot this year. I'm happy for everyone at DEI. A lot of people have been working really hard for me. I knew I had a good car in practice. I'm proud of these guys."

Joe Nemechek was one of the last cars out on the grid, but didn't mind the wait. He put up the fifth fastest time.

"It's a big lap," said Nemechek, who picked up his second top five start of the season. "The lap was good. I was on the free side more than I was in practice but I just drove it as hard as I could go and got as much as I could. It ended up being a good lap."

Points' leader Kyle Busch is planning a triple weekend in which he will compete in today's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in Texas, the Nationwide race in Nashville tomorrow and the Pocono 500 Sprint Cup race here. He put in enough time to qualify 10th for Sunday's race before taking off for Texas.

Defending race winner Jeff Gordon has led more laps at Pocono than any other driver in the history of the sport but he will have his work cut out for him if he is to add to his four wins here. He had a miserable day on Friday, qualifying 38th.

Former series champion Terry Labonte used his provisional to get into his first race of the season. He joins his brother Bobby in a Petty Enterprises Dodge for Sunday's race.

Sam Hornish Jr. made the field based on owner points while J.J. Yeley missed the cut when Patrick Carpentier edged his time as the last car out.

"It was really disappointing," said Yeley, who failed to qualify for the second time this season. "We were real happy with the car (in practice) so this sucks."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Terry Labonte , Joe Nemechek , Patrick Carpentier , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , J.J. Yeley , Regan Smith , Sam Hornish Jr. , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin