Fastest in practice, last to run in the knockout qualifying, and Kyle Busch came storming across the finish line to take the pole at the world famous Watkins Glen International SpeedwayÃ‚Â for the first time in his Sprint Cup career. This is Kyle Busch’s eighth pole in his 244th start.
”This feels very good,” Busch said after posting his lap of 126.421 mph around 2.45-mile, 11 turn circuit. ”I’ve won races at road courses, but never been the fastest guy for one lap. Joey Logano did it at (the road course) at Sonoma (in June). Hopefully, we can get a win.”
“I was actually surprised there with my lap time,” said Busch, who won his first road-course pole. “I came to the checkered, and I’m like, ‘Eh, it was OK. It wasn’t great.’ I felt like I screwed up a little bit here, a little bit there, maybe. But maybe those were good screw-ups.
“It’s really quick out there, as a matter of fact. Getting into the braking zones [is] kind of crucial — and being able to make sure that you can get the throttle down off the corners and get turned. The bus stop has obviously been a crucial area here with everybody qualifying. We seemed to hit it right, so great job by the team.”
While it was looking like an all Richard Petty Motorsports front row when A.J. Allmendinger ran faster than his teammate Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch ran the fastest lap of the day as the last man to run.
Ambrose, who starts third, felt he had slightly under driven his car in the qualifying lap and was in good spirits after his lap.Ã‚Â Ambrose would definitely like to be one of the drivers to get his first Sprint Cup win as so many others have done already this season.
“It would have been great to be on the front row with A.J., but we’ll start third for the race,” said Ambrose. “We’ve got a great package. I feel really confident, and we’ll just see how the day unfolds.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes on fuel strategy and brake wear and all those factors that come into play on a road course. Hopefully, we make the right judgment calls in getting the car ready for the race.”
When asked about the differences and similarities between The Glen and Sonoma Ambrose had a lot to say.
“Sonoma’s like a bullring, you know? You’re in everybody’s face all day; you’ve got to knock them around to try and pass,” Ambrose said. “You’re bouncing off curbs and the corners are shorter, the track’s lacking grip, in the corners there’s not a lot of banking — so it’s really a difficult place to get around. You never use top gear. It’s all about low speed and forward drive, and just trying to pass without damaging your car too much.
“This place is different. It’s more about finesse. It’s more about flying the car speed. You use third and fourth gear a lot going around this place. It’s really about managing tires; it’s about carrying momentum around the whole track. … I like this place, but I like Sonoma, too. They’re both very unique as far as road racing goes, and I think they give us a nice balance between the two.”
Jeff Gordon will be starting from the 17th position, is regarded as one of the best road course drivers at the sprint cup level.Ã‚Â Having more wins at Sonoma than any other driver in the series, and is second in wins at the Glen only to Tony Stewart, has a unique view of these tracks.Ã‚Â He has noticed the increase in the aggressive driving at these tracks and offered his opinion on it.
“As the race progresses, everybody gets more aggressive,” Gordon said. “But when you have double-file restarts in the late stages of the race, it definitely presents opportunity for a lot more bumping and aggressive moves. I know at Sonoma, you could run four or five corners side-by-side before it ever gets single file again after a restart. So there are a lot of opportunities for guys to create a lot of action. It’s exciting and I think the fans certainly enjoy that.
“Here at Watkins Glen, I think while that is possible, and it will happen, you have to get narrowed down once you get to the esses — but it does fan back out as you get into the inner loop. So it could very well present some of the same things for great racing action as far as getting heated and causing controversy and seeing the emotions of the drivers flair during and after the race.”
Tony Stewart will be starting from the 7th spot on the grid, but is always a favorite when coming to the Glen.Ã‚Â With 5 wins here at Watkins Glen he knows his way around the track, and knows what to change in his car to get his what he needs to win. Watch for him to be up near the front for most of the day, provided he can keep himself out of issues with other drivers, and stay off the tire wall.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like road courses all that much, but he has had some decent finishes at The Glen in the past.Ã‚Â Starting from the 25th position he has his work cut out for him to remain in chase contention.Ã‚Â With only 23 points between himself and Denny Hamlin who sits in 11th, Jr. needs a top 15 finish to keeps his Chase dreams alive, and improve on his current situation.