Juan Pablo Montoya shattered the Sprint Cup qualifying record at Watkins Glen International on Saturday in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Montoya won the pole for today’s Finger Lakes 355 with a lap around the 11-turn, 2.45-mile layout in 69.438 seconds at 127.020 mph.
Kyle Bush set the old track record of 69.767 seconds at 126.421 mph a year ago.
“All my life I’ve raced to win,” Montoya said after notching his second straight pole in the series and ninth of his career. “The last couple of years have been really frustrating.”
Busch qualified second, also eclipsing the track record. Five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose.
Points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 16th.
Greg Biffle, a native of Vancouver, Wash., qualified 15th, and Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne will start 20th.
Biffle is third in the driver points standings, and Kahne is 11th.
There are five races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The top 10 drivers will qualify, along with the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points who have the most wins this season. Kahne, with two victories, is in good position to be one of the wild-card qualifiers if he doesn’t crack the top 10.
“For the next five races, it’s win or bust, basically,” said Busch, who is 15th in points. “Finishing second, third or fourth ain’t going to get us anywhere.”
Montoya won the pole last week at Pocono and finished 20th. He has only two top-10 finishes this season and has failed to finish three races – one of the main reasons he’s 21st in the points.
Still, he isn’t about to give up on qualifying for the Chase.
“The only thing you can do is make sure you’re working the hardest you can,” said Montoya, whose two Cup victories have come on the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. “Maybe we still don’t have the fastest car, but if you can play the strategy right you might come up here with something and you might go on to Richmond (the last race before the postseason) with a chance of making the Chase. It would be shocking.”
Carl Edwards won Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide race at Watkins Glen.
Edwards, making his first Nationwide start of the season, beat Brad Keselowski on a two-lap dash to the checkered flag for his 38th career victory in the series, breaking a tie with Kevin Harvick for third all-time.
“This is huge for us,” Edwards said after doing his usual celebratory back flip. “This win means a lot.”
Pole-sitter Sam Hornish Jr. finished third, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ron Fellows, Busch and Kahne.
Danica Patrick, making her first series start at Watkins Glen, was taken out on the first turn of the race by Ryan Truex, and she finished last.
Elliott Sadler finished 12th and holds a 13-point lead over Stenhouse in the standings.