皇冠体育投注Clint Bowyer barely beat California native and six-time Auto Club Speedway race winner Jimmie Johnson for the pole starting spot in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 with a 40.086-second/179.614 mph lap during pole qualifying Saturday. Bowyer’s latest pole is the fourth of his career, but his first at Auto Club Speedway.
皇冠体育投注“Certainly, that is where you want to be,” Bowyer said. “Honestly, I didn’t really see that in the car. We didn’t run a qualifying lap yesterday (in practice). We made some changes in happy hour and the car kind of woke up and showed some speed, but honestly, we were kind of focused on downforce and doing what we needed to do in traffic. That being said, that thing rocketed to the top, there, and he told me the lap time and I was like, ‘Damn, I think that is on the pole.’”
皇冠体育投注ACS is honoring Johnson, who is in his final full-time season as a NASCAR Cup Series driver, by having his daughters wave the green flag to start the race. The seven-time Cup Series champion will see his daughters wave the flag from the front row, starting next to Bowyer after going out last in qualifying and posting a lap time just 0.007 seconds slower than the pole sitter.
“It will be super special,” Johnson said. ”I wish we were one spot further ahead, and clearly, off turn four, there, I ran a little more distance to the start finish. It is such a fine balance to try to understand how much you can open up and let the engine run. Clearly, I did too much, but that’s just the competitor in me. Very special weekend for me, and I can’t wait to see my girls up in the flag stand waving the green flag.”
Johnson was the 37th and last driver to make a qualifying attempt Saturday, even though 38 drivers entered and will start Sunday’s race. Martin Truex Jr. was not allowed to make a qualifying attempt after his car failed pre-qualifying inspection three times. His car chief, Blake Harris, also was ejected because of the inspection problems.
皇冠体育投注“I guess we failed a small spot on the body the first time through and, then, fixed it, came back and, then, got into the LIS roulette game. Chased that around a few times, and here we are.”
皇冠体育投注Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch claimed second row starting positions.
皇冠体育投注“My car drove really well,” Bowman said. “We backed-up the lap time we ran yesterday. Not everybody mocked-up yesterday. It looks like the SHR cars are pretty quick, but I’m just really confident about how our car is going to race. Obviously, on the long runs, our car was really good yesterday [in practice], so, I’m looking forward to getting the race in, hopefully, tomorrow, and I think we will end up somewhere there towards the front and we can definitely race from there.”
The top-three drivers all posted lap times over the 179 mph mark.
Bowyer’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five in qualifying. Three of the four SHR drivers qualified in the top-10, with Aric Almirola in sixth.
“I thought that is about where we expected to be,” Almirola said. “We have done a good job at qualifying in the past, as an organization, and our cars always have speed. It really is just about trying to figure out how to create longevity and make them run good for a long time. I felt decent about what we had in practice yesterday, and I think the package that you bring here is always interesting, because the track is so big and long with long straightaways, but the pavement is worn out. There is, certainly, a balance between speed and downforce, but tomorrow will be overcast and 55 [degrees], so hopefully, speed will pay off.”
Other drivers qualifying in the top-10 included Joey Logano in seventh, Michael McDowell in eighth, Kyle Larson ninth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 10th.
皇冠体育投注Kyle Busch was the highest-qualifying Toyota driver in 17th and the only driver from the Toyota camp in the top-20 by the end of the qualifying session.