NASCAR Cup: Joey Logano grabs another Michigan pole
Joey Logano (right) celebrates winning the pole for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 26, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visited Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in June, Joey Logano claimed the pole starting spot and, then, went on to win the race. The Sprint Cup Series is back at Michigan for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, and Logano started the race weekend the same way he did in June — by claiming the pole.
Logano claimed his third-career pole at MIS and his third pole of the season Friday with a 35.697-second/201.698 mph lap in the third of three rounds of qualifying.
“I was surprised after the first couple of rounds when we weren’t as fast as the last time we were here,” Logano said. We were eighth going into the final round, but great adjustments to find a little bit more speed out of this thing. I was down there waiting and Todd (Gordon, crew chief) said, ‘Take it!’ So I said, ‘Yeah, I am going to take it.’ So, I got pumped up, and I had the attitude that we were going to grab it or we were going to crash. It worked out well.”
Logano barely cracked the top-10 on the speed chart in the first two rounds.
Jimmie Johnson was second in round three to claim the other front-row starting spot, alongside Logano. Johnson posted the fastest time in the opening round of qualifying with a 35.797-second/201.134 mph lap.
“It was just an awesome day for this Lowe’s race can and this Lowe’s race team,” Johnson said. “We keep stacking pennies and making this car better and better. My hat’s off to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and all the hard work they’re putting into things.”
All three manufacturers were represented in the top-three when the starting grid was set, with Ford driver Logano on the pole, Chevrolet driver Johnson in second, and Toyota driver Denny Hamlin in third.
Johnson led a Hendrick Motorsports effort that saw all four of the team’s cars advance to the third round of qualifying, with rookie Chase Elliott driver qualifying fourth and Alex Bowman, in his second race as substitute driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in sixth. Kasey Kahne rounded out the Hendrick brigade, taking the 11th spot.
“I’m just so glad to be here with HMS, and I hate that it’s under these circumstances,” Bowman said. “Obviously, we’re wishing Dale a quick recovery and hope he gets back in the car soon.”
Kyle Larson was the fastest in the second round, and his 25.665-second/201.879 mph lap of record that round was the fastest, overall, of the qualifying session. Larson, though, stumbled in round three, posting the slowest lap of the round and taking the 12th starting spot.
“Well, I lost it all in (turns) one and two (in the final round),” Larson said. “I felt like I drove in the corner just a little bit further than I did the second round. I just got a lot tighter. I’m sure that has something to do with it. I couldn’t get wide-open soon enough, so that is a lot of mile-per-hour here. Probably just mostly my fault, so disappointed, but we have a really good Target Chevy. I know it’s good in race trim.”
Here’s a look at the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway:
Row 1 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 2 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Chase Elliott (No. 24 chevrolet), Alex Bowman (No. 88 Chevrolet — sub for Dale Earnhardt Jr.)
Row 4 — Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 5 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (No. 41 Chevrolet)
Row 7 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota)
Row 8 — Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 9 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 10 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Chris Buescher (No. 60 Ford), Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford)
Row 13 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford)
Row 14 — Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Chevrolet), Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Brian Scott (No. 44 Ford)
Row 16 — Regan Smith (No. 7 Chevrolet), David Ragan (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 17 — Landon Cassill (No. 38 Ford), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota)
Row 18 — Sam Hornish Jr (No. 95 Chevrolet — Michael McDowell will race car), Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Cole Whitt (No. 98 Chevrolet), Josh Wise (No. 30 Chevrolet)
Row 20 — Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Chevrolet), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 32 Ford)