NASCAR Cup: Joey Logano leads Ford dominance in Atlanta qualifying



Joey Logano claimed his second pole of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season and his second-career pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. With a round-two lap at 31.256 seconds/177.374 mph, Logano claimed the pole for Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400.

“It’s nice; we’ll try to keep that (position) the whole time,” Logano said. “Obviously, track position matters, but handling is also going to matter. Nobody knows what they got for handling without any practice. We definitely got the speed in our race car. Hopefully, we can maintain this track position. Obviously, we’ll get a good pit stall. We’ll do all we can to keep it up front.”

Team Penske swept the top-three in qualifying with Logano’s teammates Austin Cindric and Ryan Blaney second and third in the second of two rounds.

Ford dominated the throughout the qualifying session with eight among the 10 cars that advanced from round one to round two, including the fastest six lap times in the opening round. Teammates Blaney and Logano posted the two fastest laps in round one, led by Blaney’s 31.276-second/177.261 mph lap, the only lap of the round over 177 mph.

In addition to all three Team Penske Fords, both Roush Fenway Keselowski Fords (Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher) and three of four Stewart-Haas Racing Fords (Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe and Kevin Harvick) advanced to the final round of qualifying.

In round two, Ford drivers claimed the top-eight positions on Sunday’s race starting grid. Qualifying fourth through eighth were Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher and Chase Briscoe.

Kyle Larson was the fastest qualifying Chevrolet driver in ninth. Toyota driver Christopher Bell wound up 10th after spinning on his round-two qualifying lap.

Qualifying was a struggle for some others, including B.J. McLeod and Ty Gibbs. McLeod was the first driver to attempt a qualifying lap but failed to post a time after spinning. Gibbs was slowest among those who did record qualifying laps because of an ill-sounding engine and contact with the wall. They’ll start the Ambetter Health in the 18th and final row.

Defending race winner William Byron just mossed advancement to round two of qualifying in 11th.