Success at Pocono in race trim has proven elusive for Joey Logano since he won the spring ARCA race at the track back in 2009, but qualifying has been another story. Logano, who went out early after a mediocre 27th place showing in the first practice session, set a blistering new track record of 50.112 seconds that was over two tenths ahead of fellow front row starter Carl Edwards. Paul Menard, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 5. The run marked Logano’s fourth career pole and second consecutive at Pocono dating back to last August.
Despite being a stellar showing for Joe Gibbs Racing (all three team cars in the top 5), it wasn’t without its possible troubles. Coming off the track after his green flag lap, Hamlin’s No. 11 was visibly smoking out the rear end coming to pit road. There were no reports of fluid being dropped and qualifying was not delayed for a track inspection.
With Menard remarking in post-qualifying remarks that this Saturday’s session may have been “the most important qualifying session of the year” given how narrow the current groove is on the new Pocono surface, there are some notables with work to do when the green flag drops Sunday. Points leader Greg Biffle was unable to back up a top 10 happy hour speed and will start 13th. Jimmie Johnson also dropped like a rock on the speed charts; he will start 24th after spending his time trial wrestling with a machine he described to Chad Knaus as “being no fun to drive.”
Qualifying was delayed twice early in the going due to reports of oil-dry and debris in Turn 1; both Reed Sorenson and Scott Riggs abandoned their laps due to the conditions in turn 1, leading NASCAR to send the jet blowers out on each occasion. David Stremme ended up being the only car not to qualify for Sunday’s 400-miler.
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