The Target Chevrolet will be a moving target for 42 racers on Sunday afternoon. Kyle Larson will lead the field to the green flag for the Gobowling.com 400 at the Pocono Raceway after setting a lap time of 49.063 seconds – a new track record. This is the 15th time in 2014 that a driver has broken a track record in 21 races.
Larson, making his 25th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend, won his first career Coors Light Pole Award on Friday afternoon. With rain approaching during qualifying, the No. 42 team was able to improve from the fourth position during the first practice session of the weekend. In doing so, he becomes the first driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole award after graduating from the Drive for Diversity program. The pole award also locks Larson into the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona in February, and it is the second time this year that a Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver will lead the field to the green flag.
“It seems like we are back on track, running inside of the top-10. Hopefully, all of that bad luck is out of the way and we can contend for some wins here. If we can get a win before the Chase – it would be great,” Larson said in a post-qualifying press conference.
Joey Logano barely missed out on Logano’s lap time by just .008 seconds. His runner-up starting position marks the sixth time this season that the No. 22 Ford will start on the front row. Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, will start in the third position after being the second quickest car during practice.
During qualifying, Carl Edwards slid up into the wall. The right rear quarter panel of the No. 99 car received cosmetic damage. Due to not being able to complete his second attempt, he will start 26th, which is his third worst start of 2014. Moreover, Edwards’ car also received minor damage while sliding through the infield grass.
“We got knocked out of the top-24 and I think we have a pretty good car here, but we went back out. It just got away from me off of (Turn) 2 and I just blew the rear tires off. We ran the right rear into the fence and then, we had just enough time – I thought we would come down and stab it into the water and get another run. I ran it into the dirt and that just added insult to injury. I don’t think it tore up the front end, but we do have some cosmetic damage in the right rear,” Edwards said after his qualifying run.
After making the second qualifying session by the skin of his teeth, Jimmie Johnson qualified his No. 48 Chevrolet in the 17th spot. Johnson started 20th in the June race at Pocono, but worked his way up through the field until he had a collision on pit road with Marcos Ambrose.
“We’re getting there. We’re getting better. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to that next round, but there is still a practice session tomorrow and then the race on Sunday. And we didn’t have a ton of speed in qualifying when we were here in the spring race, but we raced just fine. So, we clearly wish we were faster, but that’s just how it is,” Johnson said.
With 43 drivers entered for the 400-mile spectacle, no drivers missed the race.