Bowyer narrowly beats out Johnson for Fontana pole

Jim Utter
motorsport.com

Bowyer bolted to the top of the speed chart late in the qualifying session with an average lap speed of 179.614 mph and held off challenges, first from Alex Bowman – who was fastest in both practice sessions Friday – and hometown favorite Jimmie Johnson.

The pole is just the fourth in Bowyer’s career with two coming in the last two seasons.

Johnson, who leads all drivers with six wins at the track, ended up second (179.582 mph) while Bowman was third (179.359 mph). Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick round out the top-five starters.

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“I was freaking out, actually, that the sun kept coming out because the track was building temperature,” Bowyer said. “Everybody, you could see in the data, kept getting looser and looser down in (Turns) 1 and 2.

“I knew coming to the green was important, tried to stay out high, try to get up through the gear box as good as you can, but that’s what it was. It stuck down there (in Turns 1 and 2) and everybody else had to kind of chase it up the track and lost speed and momentum.

“Then (Johnson), I’m thinking, ‘Man, if it comes down and I get beat by the last car on the race track, I’m going to freak out.’ I got a pole baby! Looking forward to tomorrow. It’s going to be a hell of a race.”

Completing the top-10 starters will be Aric Almirola, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell, Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The No. 19 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. failed pre-qualifying inspection three times Saturday morning and he was not allowed to make a qualifying attempt. He will start from the rear of the field in Sunday’s race.

In addition, the No. 1 Chevrolet of Kurt Busch failed pre-qualifying inspection twice. His car chief was ejected for the weekend and the team will lose 15 minutes of practice at Phoenix next weekend.

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1

14

United States
United States

 Clint Bowyer

 

Ford

40.086

 

179.614

2

48

United States
United States

 Jimmie Johnson

 

Chevrolet

40.093

0.007

179.582

3

88

United States
United States

 Alex Bowman

 

Chevrolet

40.143

0.057

179.359

4

1

United States
United States

 Kurt Busch

 

Chevrolet

40.233

0.147

178.958

5

4

United States
United States

 Kevin Harvick

 

Ford

40.250

0.164

178.882

6

10

United States
United States

 Aric Almirola

 

Ford

40.280

0.194

178.749

7

22

United States
United States

 Joey Logano

 

Ford

40.284

0.198

178.731

8

34

United States
United States

 Michael McDowell

 

Ford

40.304

0.218

178.642

9

42

United States
United States

 Kyle Larson

 

Chevrolet

40.341

0.255

178.478

10

47

United States
United States

 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 

Chevrolet

40.351

0.265

178.434

11

17

United States
United States

 Chris Buescher

 

Ford

40.367

0.281

178.364

12

21

United States
United States

 Matt DiBenedetto

 

Ford

40.428

0.342

178.094

13

9

United States
United States

 Chase Elliott

 

Chevrolet

40.485

0.399

177.844

14

43

United States
United States

 Darrell Wallace Jr.

 

Chevrolet

40.487

0.401

177.835

15

2

United States
United States

 Brad Keselowski

 

Ford

40.491

0.405

177.817

16

12

United States
United States

 Ryan Blaney

 

Ford

40.503

0.417

177.765

17

18

United States
United States

 Kyle Busch

 

Toyota

40.516

0.430

177.708

18

41

United States
United States

 Cole Custer

 

Ford

40.519

0.433

177.694

19

8

United States
United States

 Tyler Reddick

 

Chevrolet

40.583

0.497

177.414

20

37

United States
United States

 Ryan Preece

 

Chevrolet

40.587

0.501

177.397

21

24

United States
United States

 William Byron

 

Chevrolet

40.610

0.524

177.296

22

95

United States
United States

 Christopher Bell

 

Toyota

40.698

0.612

176.913

23

38

United States
United States

 John Hunter Nemechek

 

Ford

40.699

0.613

176.909

24

13

United States
United States

 Ty Dillon

 

Chevrolet

40.738

0.652

176.739

25

3

United States
United States

 Austin Dillon

 

Chevrolet

40.750

0.664

176.687

26

32

United States
United States

 Corey Lajoie

 

Ford

40.761

0.675

176.639

27

6

United States
United States

 Ross Chastain

 

Ford

40.783

0.697

176.544

28

11

United States
United States

 Denny Hamlin

 

Toyota

40.790

0.704

176.514

29

20

United States
United States

 Erik Jones

 

Toyota

40.955

0.869

175.803

30

52

United States
United States

 J.J. Yeley

 

Ford

41.484

1.398

173.561

31

96

Mexico
Mexico

 Daniel Suarez

 

Toyota

41.511

1.425

173.448

32

15

United States
United States

 Brennan Poole

 

Chevrolet

41.819

1.733

172.171

33

77

United States
United States

 Reed Sorenson

 

Chevrolet

41.975

1.889

171.531

34

53

United States
United States

 Joey Gase

 

Ford

42.375

2.289

169.912

35

00

United States
United States

 Quin Houff

 

Chevrolet

42.657

2.571

168.788

36

51

United States
United States

 Garrett Smithley

 

Chevrolet

42.842

2.756

168.059

37

66

United States
United States

 Timmy Hill

 

Toyota

43.729

3.643

164.650

38

19

United States
United States

 Martin Truex Jr.

 

Toyota

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