Timing is everything and when you go out to qualify for the Brickyard is very critical. Indianapolis is one of the most temperature sensitive tracks that the series visits so the earlier a driver can take to the track the better. For Juan Pablo Montoya, going out seventh gave him almost the perfect opportunity to back up his practice winning times and he took full advantage. Montoya clocked a lap of 49.375 seconds for a speed of 182.278 mph to capture the pole for the 17th running of the Brickyard 400. Montoya is looking to become the first driver in history to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.
Jimmie Johnson was the ninth driver to take to the track for qualifying and ran a very good lap of 49.412 seconds, which translated to a speed of 182.142 mph. Johnson is attempting to win the Brickyard for the third consecutive year and fourth time in five years. Mark Martin was one of the two surprises in qualifying when he went out 27th after the track temperature had gone up more than 10 degrees and laid down a lap of 49.504 seconds with a speed of 181.803 mph to claim the third spot in the lineup. Martin noted in the post-qualifying press conference “Last year we had a good draw and a good car and we capitalized on it. This year we had a bad draw but a good car and still capitalized on it.”
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing took advantage of sharing knowledge and another good draw for qualifying to put Jamie McMurray in the fourth starting spot. McMurray went out right before Montoya and held the pole for approximately two minutes with a 49.519-second lap that equated to a 181.748-mph average speed. Rounding out the top five was the second surprise of qualifying when Ryan Newman went out one spot before Martin and cut a 49.521-second lap for 181.741 mph. The rest of the top 10 is made up of Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton.
Montoya described his lap as not quite perfect “The car got a little tight off of [turn] 2 so I had to breathe is just a bit. I didn’t give up anything but I didn’t gain anything either.”
This is Montoya’s fourth pole of his career and his second pole this season; he also captured the top qualifying spot at New Hampshire three races ago. This is Johnson’s fifth top-10 start in nine races at Indianapolis. Martin will be starting in the top 10 for the ninth time in his career.