Juan Pablo Montoya’s contribution to the NASCAR highlight reel so far this season was his crash into a jet dryer in the season-opening Daytona 500.
Montoya finally had a bright spot that didn’t involve explosions and raging fuel fires.
He turned a lap of 176.043 mph Saturday to win the pole at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., for today’s Sprint Cup Series race.
The winless Montoya won his first pole since April 2011 in Richmond, Va. He hasn’t won a race since Aug. 8, 2010, at Watkins Glen.
The pole was a needed lift for Montoya and his No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team.
He’s 21st in the standings and has yet to drive to a top-five finish. He has only two top 10s and has continued a string of mediocre seasons since qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in 2009.
Denny Hamlin turned a lap of 175.795 and qualified second. It’s his 12th top-10 start in 14 career Pocono races.
Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne and Marcos Ambrose round out the top five.
Points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts eighth.
Elliott Sadler rebounded from the disappointment of his jumped-restart penalty last week in Indianapolis to win the NASCAR Nationwide Race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
Sadler denied Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a fourth straight victory at Iowa Speedway, and increased his lead in the series standings to 18 points over Austin Dillon.
Will Power captured his third pole of the season, holding off Dario Franchitti and rookie Simon Pagenaud to take the top qualifying spot for today’s IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio.
Power, ranked as the best in the series on road courses, was timed in 1 minute, 5.6474 seconds around the 2.25-mile, 13-turn layout in Lexington, Ohio.
Joey Coulter sped from third to first off the final restart to win for the first time in the Trucks Series at Pocono Raceway.
Coulter won in his 36th career start.
Pro Stock points leader Allen Johnson topped Pro Stock qualifying for the sixth straight event, taking the No. 1 position in the NHRA Northwest Nationals on at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash.
Spencer Massey led the Top Fuel field, and teammate Ron Capps topped the Funny Car class.
Johnson powered his Mopar Dodge Avenger to the No. 1 position with his 6.554-second pass at 211.66 mph Friday night. He won the first two stops of the Western Swing in Denver and Sonoma and will look to become the eighth driver to sweep the three-race swing when eliminations start today.