Joey Logano, winner of three of the last eight NASCAR Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, will start from the pole position in Sunday‘s Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube after topping 186 mph Saturday in the final round of qualifying.
Logano toured the 1.5-mile track in 29.024 seconds (186.053 mph) to earn his first Busch Pole Award of the season, his second at Las Vegas and the 27th of his career.
Logano‘s No. 22 Team Penske Ford was .141 seconds faster than William Byron‘s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (185.153 mph). Ryan Blaney, Logano‘s teammate, qualified third at 184.900 mph, with Ty Gibbs (184.540 mph) earning a career-best fourth-place starting position.
“The car was wicked good,” said Logano, who won last year‘s Playoff race at LVMS on the way to his second Cup Series championship. “The Pennzoil Mustang is fast. In practice it was pretty good, and in qualifying (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) really gave me a heck of a piece here.
“I held it wide open—just being honest. I kept it pinned around there. It‘s on the edge, don‘t get me wrong, but it‘s a really fast car they gave me today, and hopefully that speed translates over into the race.”
Byron likewise didn‘t lift during his money lap.
“I felt good,” he said. “That was a wide-open lap there, so I‘m not sure what I could have done different, maybe cut a little bit of the track off (Turn) 4, and just let the car kind of wind out.
“I‘m happy with the lap, though. Being second is good. Not pumped to be second for the fact of not getting the pole, but at least it‘s a good starting spot. I‘m excited for that.”
A dramatic shift in wind direction—to a tailwind down the backstretch—played havoc with the cars in Group B. Christopher Bell, who was fastest in the first round, was the most notable victim. He was 10th in the final round at 183.524 mph after running 185.065 mph in the opening round.
Kyle Busch, last Sunday‘s winner at Auto Club Speedway, will start fifth beside Kyle Larson. Brad Keselowski and Ross Chastain claimed fourth row starting spots, followed by Austin Cindric and Bell, after all five Group B qualifiers were relegated to positions six through 10 after the wind changed directions.
Harrison Burton clobbered the Turn 1 wall during practice and destroyed his primary No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. As a result, he was unable to qualify and will start from the rear of the field in a backup car.
“I went sideways really quickly,” Burton said. “I looked at my dash, because I had water temp flash hot… looked down and then back up to go in the corner, and as soon as I turned in, it was really sideways…
“I felt like we had a decent car—fired off OK with a lot of grip. Then, all the sudden, there wasn‘t. Pretty upset, I guess. I feel fine. It was definitely a hard hit. Anytime you get head-on with that speed, it doesn‘t feel great. But I feel fine—just wish I could have that corner back. I don‘t know what exactly caused it, but I wish I had a chance to avoid it. I guess that‘s part of it.”
Because of an engine change in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota, Tyler Reddick was unable to practice or qualify and will join Burton at the rear of the field. So will BJ McLeod, who opted not to practice or qualify his No. 78 Chevrolet.
Note: In 30 races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway only one driver has won from the pole—Kyle Busch in 2009.
— NASCAR News Wire —