Pepsi 500 is Set for Sunday
Qualifying sessions for the fourth round of the Chase the Pepsi 500 went as expected as the championship contenders all had good runs and will start in good positions. Denny Hamlin moved into a good position for Sunday’s race by posting a time of 39.158 during his turns around the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway and grabbed the pole for Sunday’s race. Hamlin needs to have a good finish in Sunday’s race if he wants to stay in contention for the championship and he has achieved the first part. Now he just has to have a good, strong race and finish in a good spot to put him in position to make a move in the coming races. His car picked up significant speed that it didn’t have during practice, so maybe the team has made a few lasting changes that will allow Hamlin to have a better chance of winning a race. A fast car is only one part of winning a race though, he’ll need a bit of luck and maybe good timing, but at least he’s in a position where this is possible.
There was a bit of controversy on this day as David Reutimann’s second-best time was thrown-away after NASCAR found that something was amiss with the settings on his rear shock absorbers during the inspection that’s normally conducted after all NASCAR Sprint Cup Competitions. David Reutimann will start 42 in Sunday’s Pepsi 500. Apparently, NASCAR took his shock absorbers in for a careful inspection and we’ll have more on this later. These unfortunate circumstances did allow Greg Biffle to move into the front row, so it wasn’t all bad. Behind him and Hamlin will be Jimmie Johnson and Juan Montoya, just sitting there waiting for their chance. Would you rather be on the pole or coming from behind in the upcoming Pepsi 500?
Martin Truex Jr. will start fifth and next to him will be Joey Logano, who is going to be my surprise pick for a good finish in Sunday’s Pepsi 500. Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer will start in the row behind Logano and Truex Jr. Mark Martin qualified ninth for this race, he currently leads Jimmie Johnson by 18 points for the Sprint Cup Series Championship. Jeff Gordon qualified 10th for Sunday’s race, Carl Edwards 11th, Tony Stewart 20th, Kurt Busch 24th, Kasey Kahne 25th, Brian Vickers 32nd and Ryan Newman 36th.
“Image: Zuma Press”