This weekend’s Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 at the Pocono Raceway is off to a rollicking start.
The notorious raceway, with its three distinctive turns, has once again caused problems in turn two, a result of harsh winter conditions.
When the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers returned to the 2.5-mile track nestled in the Pocono Mountains, they found a series of rolling bumps over the tunnel turn and so far the terrain has taken its toll on drivers and teams trying to alleviate the problem of that part of the treacherous track.
Tony Stewart was the first to spin, nosing his Chevrolet into the inside wall, and sending him to a back-up car for Sunday’s race.
Qualifying had an unexpected twist with Kurt Busch taking the pole at a speed of 177.599 mph with Carl Edwards, Martin Truex, Jr., Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick rounding out the top five.
With a minute to go in the third and final qualifying session for the pole position, Denny Hamlin spun coming out of turn two causing the caution flag to come out with exactly 39 seconds remaining. Positions eight though twelve were also denied qualifying times.t Challengers Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne were on their qualifying lap when Hamlin spun, freezing the lineup.
“Wow, what a day today,” said Busch. “I mean it felt like there were six corners out there, as hard as I was working. Corner entry, corner exit, the car was just off balance, especially with the new bumps in turn two, and then we got way too loose.”
Defending champion for the last two spring races at Pocono, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified 20th with Danica Patrick starting 22nd.