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Johnson Storms to Coca-Cola 600 Pole

Johnson Storms to Coca-Cola 600 Pole

by May 24, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports) laid down a blisteringly-quick lap of 27.705 seconds to claim the pole position for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

Though he came up a tenth of a second short of beating Denny Hamlin’s (Joe Gibbs Racing) track record set last May, Johnson was able to fend off threats from Hamlin, Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), and Kasey Kahne (Hendrick Motorsports) to earn the 33rd Coors Light Pole Award of his career. The pole is also the fourth of his career at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“We know what this team is capable of,” Johnson said. “We had a great race car today and wanted to take advantage of it. Qualifying days usually aren’t our best. We know when we qualify well we’ll race well.”

Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing) would post the fastest time in the first qualifying round with a lap of 27.845 seconds, a faster lap than the one he registered in practice earlier in the day. The first round of qualifying also yielded some surprise names at the top of the speedchart with Brian Vickers (Michael Waltrip Racing), Justin Allgaier (HScott Motorsports), Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing), Danica Patrick (Stewart-Haas Racing), and Brian Scott (Richard Childress Racing) making their way into the top-10 of the first round.

At the conclusion of the opening 25-minute session, drivers from positions 25-45 were eliminated from pole contention. Both Chip Ganassi Racing drivers – Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson – would miss out on advancing to Q2 as well as Jeff Gordon (Hendrick Motorsports), Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing), and Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing.) J.J. Yeley (Xxxtreme Motorsports) and Dave Blaney (Randy Humphrey Motorsports) were the two drivers to not qualify for the race.

It was Patrick’s time to shine in the second round as she went to P1 on the scoring pylon with a lap of 27.750 seconds. Patrick’s owner teammate and team owner, Tony Stewart, would find himself out of the running for the pole after running 18th in the second session. Aric Almirola (Richard Petty Motorsports), Trevor Bayne (Wood Brothers Racing), and the Roush Fenway-Racing trio of Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would also find themselves eliminated from pole contention.

The third session featured a tight battle for the pole that had Johnson just sneaking out the Coors Light Pole Award from Keselowski. Keselowski would be the only driver in the field to qualify within one-tenth of Johnson’s pole award winning time. Both Harvick and Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) would find trouble in Q3 when neither car would be able to complete a lap. Rodney Childers, Harvick’s crew chief, would admit after the conclusion of the session that the team had made a mistake by waiting too long to leave pit road during the proceedings of the round – Childers felt as if the No. 4 team had a car capable of contending for the pole.

Charlotte has proven in the past to be a track where a strong qualifying position is not as critical for a team to get to victory lane as it would be for other tracks on the circuit. Five of the last 10 races at the track have come from starting positions outside of the top-10; both Charlotte races last year were won from starting positions higher than the 14th grid position. The pole winner at Charlotte has gone on to win only once in the last 19 races at the track – Johnson being the last driver to do so in the 2004 Coca-Cola 600.

The 43 teams set for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 will take to the track on Saturday for two practice sessions before Sunday’s race to set their cars up in race-trim. Both practices will air on FOX Sports 1 with the morning practice’s broadcast starting at 9:30 a.m ET.

Top-10 Qualifiers for the Coca-Cola 600

  1. 48 – Jimmie Johnson – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports – 27.705 seconds | Leader
  2. 2 – Brad Keselowski – Ford – Team Penske – 27.754 seconds | -0.049
  3. 5 – Kasey Kahne – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports – 27.890 seconds | -0.185
  4. 10 – Danica Patrick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing – 27.931 seconds | -0.226
  5. 15 – Clint Bowyer – Toyota – Michael Waltrip Racing – 27.944 seconds | -0.239
  6. 11 – Denny Hamlin – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing – 27.962 seconds | -0.257
  7. 18 – Kyle Busch – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing – 27.966 seconds | -0.261
  8. 22 – Joey Logano – Ford – Team Penske – 28.056 seconds | -0.351
  9. 9 – Marcos Ambrose – Ford – Richard Petty Motorsports – 28.173 seconds | -0.468
  10. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports – 28.232 seconds | -0.527

 

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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