NASCAR Cup: Joey Logano picks up where he left off in Phoenix with pole
Joey Logano celebrates a pole at Phoenix International Raceway on March 17, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Joey Logano picks up where he left off at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend. The race winner the last time the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visited PIR in November 2016 will start Sunday’s Camping World 500 from the pole after posting a 26.216-second/137.321 mph in the third of three rounds of qualifying on Friday.
“I’m glad we finally got a pole here,” Logano said. “We have qualified really well here. I don’t know what our average starting position is, but I feel like it is really good, but we have never really put the whole deal together in the last run. We have won plenty of rounds but have never actually gotten the pole. I am glad we could finally do that.”
Corporate teammate Ryan Blaney qualified second to start alongside fellow-Ford driver Logano on the front row.
“That is something I felt like we wanted to improve a lot in the offseason — getting better qualifying, getting better round to round,” Blaney said. “That is the toughest thing — to adjust for three of them (rounds). That was really hard on us last year, so we sat down, my team and I, and tried to figure out what we need and what is more important, going from round to round, and what really helps our car. The last two weekends, we have shown really good speed in qualifying trim. It is nice to have fast race cars. You have seen it the past two weeks. Our Wood Brothers car and the Penske group have been fast in qualifying trim.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Larson claimed second-row starting spots, while Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five in qualifying.
Kevin Harvick, an eight-time winner at PIR and victor in the last three editions of the Camping Worls 500, qualified 21st. The farthest back he started for any of his previous Phoenix wins was 19th.
Logano was fast throughout qualifying. After posting a top-five lap in the opening round, he had the fastest time in round two (26.265 seconds/137.065 mph). Logano’s second and third-round laps of record were the only two laps turned by any driver to surpass the 137 mph mark.
Larson’s 26.336-second/136.695 mph lap was fastest in the first. round.
Here is the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Camping World 500 at Phoenix International Raceway:
Row 1 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 2 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 4 — Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet), Erik Jones (No. 77 Toyota)
Row 5 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Ford), Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 7 — Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Ford), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota)
Row 9 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Deny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Ford), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 13 — Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Ford)
Row 14 — Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota), Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford)
Row 15 — Landon Cassill (No. 34 Ford), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 32 Ford)
Row 16 — Corey LaJoie (No. 83 Toyota), Cole Whitt (No. 72 Chevrolet)
Row 17 — Chris Buescher (No. 37 Chevrolet), David Ragan (No. 38 Ford)
Row 18 — Reed Sorenson (No. 15 Chevrolet), Gray Gaulding (No. 23 Ford)
Row 19 — Derrike Cope (No. 55 Chevrolet), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 33 Chevrolet)
Row 20 — Timmy Hill (No. 51 Chevrolet (No. 51 Chevrolet)