INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. --- There was a group of fans standing behind David Ragan's hauler waiting for an autograph two hours before pole qualifying for the Brickyard 400.
There were even more waiting outside the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway pagoda after he won the pole.
Ragan's young career continued to gain momentum with a hot lap of 182.994 mph this afternoon. And it's clear a lot of fans are along for the ride.
NASCAR drivers generally attract attention, but the people interested in the 25 year-old driver has grown immensely in the past month. Ragan was rumored to be on the chopping block at Roush Fenway Racing earlier this year. Now he's the new fresh face for the sport.
He won his first race at Daytona International Speedway earlier this month, and now he's got the best starting position for one of the biggest races of the year. He's also currently qualified for the Chase for the Championship.
"You've got to be fast to sit on the pole," Ragan said. "To win the race, you've got to be fast, 400 miles worth. We'll enjoy this (Saturday night), but when we get up (Sunday morning), it will be all business."
Kasey Kahne qualified second at 182.927 mph. Johnson was third, followed by Kurt Busch in fourth, Brad Keselowski in fifth, AJ Allmendinger in sixth, Juan Pablo Montoya in seventh, Jeff Gordon in eighth, Matt Kenseth in ninth and Carl Edwards in 10th.
Nine of 17 winners at Indianapolis have started in the first four spots.