Long Pond, Pa. — Rain didn’t entirely spoil Tony Stewart’s week.
He will start Sunday’s Pocono 500 from the pole after a downpour Friday washed out qualifying for Stewart’s first race since he catapulted to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings this season.
Stewart earned a nice consolation prize after his charity race was also rained out earlier this week.
Still, Smoke is on a roll in his first season as an owner and driver.
“It has been a honeymoon to this point,” Stewart said Friday. “I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can.”
Jeff Gordon and his achy back will start second. The four-time Cup champion said that he’ll be OK for Sunday’s race at the “Tricky Triangle,” though he does need about an hour of treatment each day to ease the pain.
Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman round out the top five in a Pocono lineup set on the point standings.
They’re all looking up at Stewart, who’s fashioned a surprising run for a third career Cup title in his inaugural season with Stewart Haas Racing.
“I still think Tony is crazy for starting up his own team, but he’s doing a great job with it,” said Johnson, who nipped Stewart to win last week at Dover.
Stewart’s schedule has been washed out since then, including the charity race at a dirt track he owns near the western Ohio village of Rossburg that had been postponed Wednesday because of rain. It was rescheduled for Sept. 9.
Friday’s rainout at Pocono, though, allowed him more time to get back to Eldora Speedway to enter qualifying there for today’s Dirt Late Model Dream race.
“Make it quick, I’m actually trying to make it back to qualify in case I didn’t stress that enough,” Stewart joked in the media room after Friday’s Pocono washout became official.