POCONO, Pa. (June 11, 2004) – The fact that Brian Vickers has never competed at Pocono Raceway doesn’t mean the 20-year-old should feel intimidated.
The GMAC Racing team spent two days testing at the uniquely shaped tri-oval in April, with hopes of easing the learning curve for Vickers at Pocono.
During Friday’s time trials, the effort paid off as the GMAC Racing team qualified second, capturing a valuable starting position up front.
Thirty-one of the 52 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races held at the 2.5-mile track, including 10 of the last 13, have been won from a starting position of fourth or better.
“I guess we’re satisfied,” joked Vickers. “It was a good lap. Kasey (Kahne) picked up quite a bit of time from his lap this morning and was able to beat us.
“We were aiming from the pole, but second-place is nothing to be disappointed in. As good as we were in qualifying setup, I think based upon our test, our car is even better in race trim.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Terry Labonte will start sixth, fifth and 19th, respectively.
Fellow Rookie of the Year candidate Kasey Kahne earned the pole position for Sunday’s Pocono 500.
The all-rookie front row marks only the second time in NASCAR’s modern era, dating back to 1972, that two rookies have qualified first and second for a NEXTEL Cup event.
Live television coverage of the race will begin at 1 p.m. ET on FOX and will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network (MRN) starting at 12:30 p.m. ET.