By AMANDA VINCENT
Joey Logano claimed his fifth pole of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season on Friday by turning in a 21.349-second/126.470 mph lap in the third of three rounds of qualifying for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
“We weren’t able to put down a fast lap in practice, but I felt like, as we kept working on it, that we were a little better at the end of practice, but we didn’t have another set of tires to put back on,” Logano said. “It was a little bit of an unknown going into qualifying, and I didn’t know where we would stack up. That first run, we were 12th or 13th and then we were second and then on top in the third round. I’m proud of my team.”
Logano will share the front row with Matt Kenseth. Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing combined to claim the top-four starting spots for Saturday’s race, with Logano’s Penske teammate Brad Keselowski claiming the third starting spot and Kenseth’s JGR teammate Kyle Busch fourth.
Kenseth was fast throughout the qualifying session, posting the fastest lap times in both of the first two rounds with a 20.883-second/129.292 mph lap in the first round and a 21.141-second/127.714 mph lap in round two. His first-round lap was the only lap across all three rounds of qualifying to surpass the 129 mph mark.
“It’s hard to be disappointed with second, but I’m really disappointed with second,” Kenseth said. “They gave me an awesome Dollar General Camry, especially on stickers. The second round, we had a little bit to work on, and in the third round, a little to work on too, but I didn’t get one and two right. I got a little too aggressive getting back to the gas, and that messed up my center and my exit, and I knew I left all the time there, and we weren’t really set up to run a fast second lap. That was kind of it.”
Of drivers with a shot of claiming Chase for the Sprint Cup spots on points, none advanced to the third round to qualify in the top-12. Ryan Newman will start 13th, Paul Menard 22nd, Jeff Gordon 23rd, Clint Bowyer 26th and Jamie McMurray 31st, Fortunately for McMurray, though, all he has to do to lock into the Chase is start the race.
Other qualifiers of note: Denny Hamlin failed to get past the first round of qualifying, winding up 25th after tearing an ACL in his right knee.
Here is the complete starting grid for the Federated Auto Parts 400:
Row 1 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 2 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 3 — David Ragan (No. 55 Toyota), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet)
Row 4 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet)
Row 5 — Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 7 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Chevrolet)
Row 9 — Brian Scott (No. 33 Chevrolet), Justin Allgaier (No. 51 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet), Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford)
Row 13 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota)
Row 14 — Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 15 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), David Gilliland (No. 38 Ford)
Row 16 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 9 Ford)
Row 17 — Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota), Cole Whitt (No. 35 Ford)
Row 18 — Landon Cassill (No. 40 Chevrolet), Alelx Bowman (No. 7 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Brett Moffitt (No. 34 Ford), Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford)
Row 20 — Michael McDowell (No. 95 Ford), Reed Sorenson (No. 98 Ford)
Row 21 — Jeb Burton (No. 23 Toyota), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 32 Ford)
Row 22 — J.J. Yeley (No. 26 Toyota)
DNQ (did not qualify): Josh Wise, Timmy Hill
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