Date: Aug. 8, 2015
Event: Cheez-It 355k at The Glen Qualifying (Round 22 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (2.45-mile, 11-turn road course)
Pole Winner: AJ Allmendinger of JTG Daugherty Racing (68.993 seconds at 127.839 mph)
SHR Lineup: Tony Stewart (3rd, 69.187 seconds at 127.481 mph)
Kevin Harvick (4th, 69.222 seconds at 127.416 mph)
Kurt Busch (14th, 69.564 seconds at 126.790 mph)
Danica Patrick (22nd, 69.962 seconds at 126.068 mph)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Saturday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International by setting the third-fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355k at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Stewart turned a lap of 69.187 seconds at 127.481 mph around the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course in the final qualifying round. It was his third straight top-five qualifying effort, as Stewart qualified fourth two races ago at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and fifth last week at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
“That was all I had,” said Stewart, a five-time Sprint Cup winner at Watkins Glen (2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009). “I’m very content with that. Three good weeks of qualifying – that really makes me happy, and we did it at three different tracks with three different (rules) packages. That is an awesome way to start the weekend for our Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 team. I thought we had a decent day yesterday. Today is even better. Hopefully, we can get our race package a little bit better for tomorrow, too.”
Qualifying consisted of two rounds. The first was 25 minutes, with every driver on the track vying to set the fastest lap. The fastest 12 drivers from that session advanced to the final, 10-minute round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by speeds in the final round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance past the first round.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified fourth with a time of 69.222 seconds at 127.416 mph.
“I think we have a really good Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevy for tomorrow’s race,” said Harvick, who won at Watkins Glen in 2006. “I got the car pointed the wrong direction there exiting the inner loop and that cost us some time, but everything else was really good. The guys have done a great job on the car and we’re looking forward to the race tomorrow.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 14th with a time of 69.564 seconds at 126.790 mph.
“We made changes to our Haas Automation Chevrolet after our first run, but I just couldn’t get the job done,” said Busch, whose best Sprint Cup finish at Watkins Glen is second in 2010. “The changes the team made to the car after final practice yesterday were good. The brakes felt much better. I don’t know why, but we weren’t fast enough to transfer to the final round.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 22nd with a time of 69.962 seconds at 126.068 mph.
“The GoDaddy Chevrolet was a tiny bit loose on the first run, but I was able to hustle it a good bit,” said Patrick, who will make her third career Sprint Cup start at Watkins Glen on Sunday. “When we went back out for a second run, there was just a bunch of traffic and we weren’t able to get a clean lap, similar to yesterday in practice. Overall, the team definitely made big gains from practice, so while we didn’t get the starting position we wanted, I think we’ve definitely got something to work with for the race.”
AJ Allmendinger led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 68.993 seconds at 127.839 mph. It was his fourth career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his first at Watkins Glen.
Martin Truex Jr. will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 69.139 seconds at 127.569 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Stewart, Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski and Justin Allgaier. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
The Cheez-It 355k at The Glen gets underway at 2 p.m. EDT Sunday with live coverage provided by NBC Sports Network.