One weekend after a slow final stop cost him the Brickyard 400, Jimmie Johnson has put himself on the pole for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway after posting a track-record lap at 180.654 miles per hour. Inspection issues once again kept Johnson from qualifying in his original spot on the order (24th), causing him to be the 28th driver to make a run instead according to NASCAR.com.
“We had to go through a second time,” said Johnson, who noted that he had a beneficial bit of cloud cover to aid him during his attempt. “The left-rear tow was off a whopping one-thousandth of an inch. We had to go through again and rolled up there and ran our lap.”
Three weeks ago at New Hampshire, Johnson was late for qualifying and posted the second-fastest time but was disqualified in post-race inspection, as his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was found to have too low of a ride height.
But Johnson, who won at Pocono earlier this summer, will have clear track ahead of him on Sunday. The same goes for Kyle Busch, who qualified second with a lap at 180.639 mph – or four one-thousandths of a second off of Johnson’s time.
“I wish we would’ve went later,” said Busch. “I think we would’ve had a better race track with 10 degrees cooler at least. But, it was about all I could get.”
Row 2 will feature Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman, who took advantage of Johnson’s misfortune and won last weekend at Indianapolis. The third row will have Kurt Busch and Joey Logano, followed by Greg Biffle and Marcos Ambrose in Row 4, and Denny Hamlin and Aric Almirola in Row 5.
Other notables include defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski in 11th, current Chase wild card holders Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr. in 20th and 26th respectively, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 25th, and Danica Patrick in 34th.
Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.
The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.
“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.
“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.
“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”
The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.
Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.
Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.
McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.