Johnson, never one to exchange in a verbal spat, brushed off Busch’s comments.
“It’s only (a few) spots, now. It didn’t make a difference,” he said. “I wish there was some master plan behind it all. They’re welcome to try it. They’re welcome to experience the stress that goes with it. My heart was pounding out of my chest trying to get in the car and beat the clock. I don’t wish that kind of stress on anybody. ... It’s not what I want to go through.”
Maybe not. But it worked at Pocono.
Johnson seemed poised to win the pole last week at Indianapolis until Newman topped him on the last qualifying attempt of the day. This time, he would not be denied as NASCAR saw its 11th track qualifying record set this season by the Gen-6 car.
Joey Logano’s old mark of 179.598 mph was topped by six drivers, including Logano. Johnson also set the track record at Martinsville Speedway this season. He now has 31 poles in 420 career Cup starts.
“Track records are cool,” Johnson said. “It makes all the drivers and teams smile.”
Just not an irked Kyle Busch.
“I wish we went later,” he said. “I think we would have had a better racetrack that was 10 degrees cooler, at least.”
Johnson had the car to beat last week in Indianapolis until Newman spoiled the day with a surprise win. Johnson’s crew botched the final pit stop that allowed Newman to pull away.
“It absolutely stung. It wasn’t fun for any of us,” Johnson said. “But the best thing we could do is get back to our jobs and, fortunately or unfortunately, forget about Indy and move on. The faster we move on from that the better we are going to do here.”