Johnson on pole after Pocono washout, and seeks restart clarity

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Rain washed out all of Friday’s scheduled running for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway. That means points leader Jimmie Johnson will start on the pole for Sunday’s Party in the Poconos 400, ahead of Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick, with the full grid set by owner points.

Meanwhile, the other topic at hand was a further revisiting of the restart rules in NASCAR as Johnson was penalized last week for jumping the final restart at Dover International Speedway.

“I just need a better understanding of the rule,” he told assembled media at Pocono. “I think I’ve played into trying to do the right thing, trying to maintain pace car speed when the pace car pulls off. We see guys really choke up the field at that point, which they way they say the rule works, you’re not supposed to do that.”

Johnson then claimed Juan Pablo Montoya had “found a loophole,” laying back enough to where Johnson had no choice but to go. Montoya laughed off that suggestion.

“Did I? Wow. I’m that good. Man. That’s a compliment,” Montoya said. “If I did that, why did only Jimmie pass me in his lane, if you think about it?”

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at Ground Zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.