LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — Kurt Busch survived NASCAR’s version of bump day to beat the clock and the rest of the field.
Busch turned a lap at 177.599 mph Friday and won the pole at a bumpy Pocono Raceway in a bizarre qualifying session that saw five cars fail to complete a lap in the final round.
Denny Hamlin bobbled and lost control of the No. 11 Toyota as the qualifying clock ticked down, bringing out the red flag. With only 39 seconds left in the third round, NASCAR scrubbed the rest of qualifying. Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne all failed to record a lap time.
Logano was on the track and seemed poised to nip Busch for the pole until the red flag was waved.
“Because a car spins out and they throw a red flag for it and then you don’t get an opportunity to go out and make a lap, I don’t understand it,” Logano said. “It makes me mad. I don’t get it. We didn’t even have a chance to try to put our car up front.”
The reason: There simply wasn’t enough time left on the clock for the remaining cars to complete a lap under green. Busch’s pole-winning lap was run in 50.676 seconds.
Without turning one final lap, Johnson still posted his best qualifying spot out of the last five races.