Montoya claims Fontana Cup pole
|By Diego Mejia||Saturday, March 26th 2011, 02:54 GMT|
Juan Pablo Montoya claimed his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position in qualifying for Sunday's race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
The Colombian had run seventh fastest in a rain-delayed practice, which gave him one of the late slots to complete his qualifying run. On his first and only lap he knocked Joe Gibbs Racing's Joey Logano off provisional pole with a lap time of 38.992s - the only driver breaking the 39-second bracket - at an average speed of 184.652mph.
Logano's team-mate Denny Hamlin came closest to beating Montoya's benchmark, ending up 0.081s from the Earnhardt Ganassi driver while joining him on the front row of the grid.
Montoya had been close to pole previously at Fontana but sideways moments at Turn 4 had meant second and fourth on his most recent outings at the two-mile oval.
"I still got it wrong this time," said Montoya about the final turn. "I didn't screw it as much because I usually get on the gas there too early and end up washing up in the wall.
"So I got in and as soon as I felt the rear starting to turn around I lifted. Had too wait a little longer and could've been a little bit faster but nailed [Turns] 1 and 2 pretty good."
"Qualifying and race set-ups here are two completely different things, so tomorrow there's going to be a lot of work in practice. We've done plenty of work on the cars in order to improve them and it seems like our race pace is now usually better than in qualifying. We're still missing a little bit to be able to win a race on an oval, but I think we're getting closer to that."
Logano ended up third beside Front Row Motorsports' Regan Smith, whose ECR-powered Chevy held on to provisional pole for most of the session. Tony Stewart was fifth, ahead of the fastest Ford of Roush Fenway's David Ragan.
Richard Childress Racing's Jeff Burton was seventh beating Kyle Busch, who managed to qualify in the top 10 on his first flying lap of the day on his back up car after crashing his primary one early in practice.
Stewart Haas's Ryan Newman and Hendrick Motorsports' Mark Martin completed row five of the grid for Sunday's race, making it six Chevrolets inside the top 10.
Michael Waltrip Racing's David Reutimann, who had been fastest in practice earlier in the day, finished only 14th, two places ahead of local hero and reigning champion Jimmie Johnson while points leader Kurt Busch was only 24th fastest in his Penske Dodge.
Casey Mears was the fastest of those having to qualify on speed with 25th and there were no drivers left out of the grid this time as only 43 cars entered this weekend's event.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 38.992s 2. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 39.073s + 0.081s 3. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 39.102s + 0.110s 4. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 39.124s + 0.132s 5. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet 39.133s + 0.141s 6. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford 39.196s + 0.204s 7. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 39.211s + 0.219s 8. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 39.241s + 0.249s 9. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet 39.245s + 0.253s 10. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet 39.248s + 0.256s 11. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 39.257s + 0.265s 12. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 39.292s + 0.300s 13. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 39.317s + 0.325s 14. David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 39.320s + 0.328s 15. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 39.355s + 0.363s 16. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 39.359s + 0.367s 17. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet 39.366s + 0.374s 18. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 39.388s + 0.396s 19. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 39.418s + 0.426s 20. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford 39.448s + 0.456s 21. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 39.450s + 0.458s 22. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota 39.481s + 0.489s 23. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge 39.552s + 0.560s 24. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 39.580s + 0.588s 25. Casey Mears Germain Toyota 39.592s + 0.600s 26. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 39.602s + 0.610s 27. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 39.603s + 0.611s 28. Landon Cassill Phoenix Chevrolet 39.627s + 0.635s 29. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 39.632s + 0.640s 30. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 39.662s + 0.670s 31. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 39.793s + 0.801s 32. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 39.826s + 0.834s 33. Michael McDowell HP Toyota 39.866s + 0.874s 34. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 39.925s + 0.933s 35. Robby Gordon Gordon Dodge 39.938s + 0.946s 36. Travis Kvapil Front Row Ford 39.997s + 1.005s 37. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 40.067s + 1.075s 38. Andy Lally TRG Chevrolet 40.233s + 1.241s 39. Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford 40.463s + 1.471s 40. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 40.527s + 1.535s 41. Todd Bodine Germain Toyota 40.780s + 1.788s 42. Tony Raines Front Row Ford 40.990s + 1.998s 43. JJ Yeley Whitney Chevrolet