Repaved Pocono yields lots of records

MOTOR SPORTS: Drivers break Kasey Kahne’s 2004 track record 36 times

McClatchy news servicesJune 10, 2012 

Thanks to a repave that led to blistering speeds, Pocono Raceway’s track record was topped 36 times during qualifying. Joey Logano had the fastest speed of them all.

Logano turned a lap of 179.598 mph Saturday to set the track record during qualifying for today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Long Pond, Pa. Logano won his first pole of the season and fourth in 125 career Sprint Cup starts.

He drove the No. 20 Toyota around the 21/2-mile track in 50.112 seconds.

“It’s cool to get a pole here,” Logano said. “A new track record, too.”

Logano went out 18th out of 44 cars then waited about 45 minutes until the final qualifying lap was turned and he could celebrate. Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne had set the record of 172.533 mph in 2004. Kahne starts 10th today (177.823 mph in qualifying, more than 5 mph faster than his old record).

Carl Edwards joins Logano on the front row for the 400-mile race. Paul Menard, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin round out the top five.

Joe Gibbs Racing put Logano, Busch and Hamlin in the top five.

Drivers have raved about a repave that points leader Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., said was “glass smooth at 200 mph.”

Pocono had absorbed decades of criticism from drivers who said the race was too long, outdated, and unsafe. Pocono cut the race to 400 miles for its two Cup races this season and recent safety upgrades have drivers suddenly raving about the track.

It’s a new era at Pocono.

Logano and the rest of the field posted the speeds to prove it.

The pole continues a recent uptick of solid results for Logano. Only 22, Logano is entering a make-or-break season at JGR in the final year of a four-year deal. He’s insisted in the past his contract status has not added pressure to him. Considered a phenom when he broke into NASCAR, Logano’s lone Cup win came in 2009.

He’s fared much better on the second-tier Nationwide Series. Logano has 13 career Nationwide wins, four this season, including last week at Dover International Speedway in Delaware.

“Every time we’ve been in position to win a race, we’ve won that race,” Logano said.

VETTEL GETS F1 POLE

Sebastian Vettel earned the pole position for the Canadian GP in Montreal, finishing qualifying with a fastest lap of 1 minute, 13.784 seconds that was more than a quarter-second faster than Lewis Hamilton.

It is the 32nd pole victory of Vettel’s career, and his second consecutive at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

“This track is very special,” Vettel said. “It would be a great race to win, for sure.”

ELSEWHERE

Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante gave the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP team its second Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car victory of the season at Mid-Ohio in Lexington, Ohio. … Pole sitter Brennan Poole won the ARCA race at Pocono.

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