By: Nancy Knapp Schilke
- Logano earns 1st pole of 2011
- McMurray ends second fastest
- Menard takes 3rd on the starting grid
Joey Logano places his Toyota fastest by 0.027 seconds to land his 1st pole at Infineon Raceway
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Joey Logano put a stop to Kurt Busch’s trio of Coors Light poles in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series when he placed his Toyota on the coveted road course pole at Infineon Raceway. It was the Home Depot driver’s first pole in Sonoma and he did it with a time of 76.821 for a fast lap at 93.256 mph. Jamie McMurray was ended second fastest and will start on the front row. Paul Menard was third.
It was good, car was fast.
Logano appeared shocked that he took the pole and said, “I was surprised it was as fast as it was. I felt like the car had a lot more grip in it, and I felt like we fixed the car, but personally I felt like I screwed up about three times in one lap. I didn’t feel too good about myself after it and I thought I screwed that one up. It was good, car was fast.”
McMurray and Menard both are in Chevrolets, and along with Ryan Newman, GM along with Toyota swept the top six in qualifying. Ford’s best was seventh with A.J. Allmendinger and Dodge’s best for Sunday’s starting grid was Kurt Busch back in 11th. Even if not in the top five, Allmendinger was positive about his qualifying attempt: "That was a lot better than I usually qualify here. I will take it."
McMurray’s best was a 76.848 (93.223 mph) for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. He missed the pole by 0.027 seconds. "We unloaded and the car was really good right off the truck and just had a really good day. I was shocked when I saw the lap times that guys were able to run when I was in line waiting to go. Once really just leaving over here at the half-way point in the track on my get-up-to-speed lap, I couldn’t believe the grip that the track had. I was really happy with our results today," he said.
Richard Childress Racing’s Menard was off the pace of Logano by just 0.066 with his best time of 76.887 (93.081 mph). Menard said, "I did not expect to qualify in the top-five. We struggled for grip all practice long. Hit on a couple of things toward the end of practice and made a few adjustments before qualifying. The car actually drove really good right there. Looking forward tomorrow to work on some more. We have a lot of practice tomorrow to try and figure this tire out and get it better for Sunday.”
Logano’s team mate Denny Hamlin will start on the second row with a 76.965 (93.081 mph) for the fourth best qualifying time. "We definitely made some big strides in our road course program. Obviously, it showed up there at the end. We’re looking forward to it. Obviously, starting this far in the front we should have a shot at it," said Hamlin.
Row 3 was taken by Newman (Stewart-Haas Racing) with a 76.981 (93.062 mph) and Kasey Kahne in the Red Bull team Toyota, whose best was a 77.085 (92.936 mph).
The regular drivers in the Sprint Cup chase will take the green flag along with the road course specialist - also known as ringers - on Sunday and it probably will not be a surprised if one of the season long drivers take the checkered flag.