David Gilliland Pole-Sitter for Coke Zero 400

David Gilliland Pole-Sitter for Coke Zero 400

by July 4, 2014 0 comments

Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — David Gilliland (Front Row Motorsports) must have been busy doing a rain dance on pit road mid-way through knockout qualifying as he will lead the field to green tomorrow night in the Coke Zero 400.

Gilliland claimed his third career Sprint Cup Series pole and his first since winning the pole for the 2007 Daytona 500 with a lap of 45.153 seconds after rain showers would cancel the second and third qualifying rounds.

“I think [for] Front Row Motorsports, our strong points are definitely the speedway racing,” Gilliland said. “Something that’s circled on our calendar from the start of the year, we put a lot of emphasis in and we feel like we have good speedway cars. The restrictor plate tracks are a great equalizer, I think that today shows it again and I think our cars – David Ragan and I both have cars good enough to win tomorrow. It’s an exciting feeling, something that myself and my teammate don’t have every week; we’d like to have it, but we don’t.”

“We’re really looking forward to it and obviously starting from the pole and have the number one pit stall is going to help and having early track position – all of that stuff is just going to help.”

Today marked the debut of the new knockout qualifying format for the Sprint Cup Series at Daytona and predictably, some surprises were sprung on the field with many teams that you wouldn’t typically see qualify towards the front taking the top spots with the new multi-car qualifying format. The driver of the No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops Fusion would make his pole-winning run in a group with Reed Sorenson (Tommy Baldwin Racing), Landon Cassill (Hillman-Circle Sport LLC), and Bobby Labonte (Hillman-Circle Sport LLC) – the second-through-fourth place qualifiers.

Other surprises in qualifying were the lack of pace by Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing – two teams that have performed exceptionally well under the new format. Both Brad Keselowski (26th) and Joey Logano (28th) would qualify outside of the top-25 for Team Penske while Kyle Larson (35th) and Jamie McMurray (36th) would be well out of the top-30 in the standings for Chip Ganassi Racing.

With 44 drivers taking laps, one would be sent home packing from Daytona – Joe Nemechek (RAB Racing.) RAB Racing last attempted to make a Sprint Cup Series race with Kenny Wallace attempting to make the 2012 Daytona 500 – Wallace would fail to qualify for that race.

After the rains brought Nationwide Series qualifying to an early end, drivers and crew chiefs alike kept their eye on the skies throughout the first 25-minute round of qualifying. The rains would hold off as NASCAR would be able to get in the entire round but the clouds would open up shortly after the cars would return to pit road to prepare for the next round.

The session would provide some interesting strategy for the drivers who, like at any other track, had to keep an eye on their temperature gauges to prevent any potential overheating. While drivers would run in large packs to set their fastest laps, drivers would also run in large packs at speeds that would average out at around 170 miles per hour to keep their engines cool by not pushing their revs too high.

Top-10 Qualifiers for the Coke Zero 400

  1. 38 – David Gilliland – Ford – Front Row Motorsports – 45.153 | Leader
  2. 36 – Reed Sorenson – Chevrolet – Tommy Baldwin Racing – 45.176 | -0.023
  3. 40 – Landon Cassill – Chevrolet – Hillman-Circle Sport LLC – 45.182 | -0.029
  4. 33 – Bobby Labonte – Chevrolet – Hillman-Circle Sport LLC – 45.233 | -0.080
  5. 48 – Jimmie Johnson – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports – 45.274 | -0.121
  6. 20 – Matt Kenseth – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing – 45.277 | -0.124
  7. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports – 45.295 | -0.142
  8. 34 – David Ragan – Ford – Front Row Motorsports – 45.298 | -0.145
  9. 24 – Jeff Gordon – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports – 45.303 | -0.150
  10. 16 – Greg Biffle – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing – 45.323 | -0.170
Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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