On Friday during the brief amount of practice time that Sprint Cup Series teams got, speeds appeared to be down quite a bit. This was mainly due to the lack of rubber on the track. However, when the time came to qualify, everyone kicked it up a notch.
Juan Pablo Montoya turned in a lap at 69.438 seconds (127.020 mph), setting a brand new track record by a full three-tenths of a second, to take the pole for today’s Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen. It is Montoya’s first career Sprint Cup pole on a road course and the second week in a row that Montoya has qualified on pole.
Afterwards, Montoya was very pleased with his lap, but believed that there was still a little bit more out there.
“I think the lap was a really good lap,” Montoya said. “You always make mistakes here and there. Its never perfect. You always think ‘I went too far here, I went too little there, I lost it there,’ but I think everybody does [that].”
Kyle Busch qualified second, just half a tenth of a second slower. Jimmie Johnson will start third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose. These five drivers broke the previous track record, which was set by Busch last year.
Of the top drivers in points, Johnson in third qualified best of them. Martin Truex, Jr. will start ninth, while Greg Biffle will start 15th. Points leader Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will start in 16th, while Matt Kenseth will start back in 24th.
Since there were only 43 entries, no one failed to qualify for the race. However, Michael McDowell qualified best of those that still needed to get in on speed. McDowell’s lap of 70.160 seconds (125.713 mph) was good enough for the 11th starting spot. Scott Speed in the Leavine Family Racing No. 95 was the second fastest driver not locked in. He’ll start 21st.
The session was not without incident. Early in the session, Travis Kvapil got loose in Turn 11 on his warm-up lap, then overcorrected his slide. The result was that Kvapil’s Burger King Toyota slid into the SAFER barrier left-front first. Kvapil’s car was damaged extensively, forcing the team to go to a backup car. They will have to start at the rear of the field.
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