Logano takes Michigan pole, Harvick bit by cautions
Joey Logano’s second pole of the season was worth the wait on Friday at Michigan International Speedway.
For the last two weeks, Logano has settled for second in time trials. But on Friday, the driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford posted a lap of 199.557 mph (36.080-seconds) for his 16th career Cup pole in 270 starts and his second at the two-mile track.
“These cars are out of control, but it’s a lot of fun and I love it,” Logano said.
“It feels really good because the last couple of weeks, I’ve come in second in the final round,” he later added. “We’ve been qualifying really well with this 22 car, we just haven’t got the pole. It’s really nice to finally break through and get a pole with this new package. It really goes to show how great this Team Penske is with preparing cars from the shop....it has some great adjustability in it. A fast car, obviously. Just really proud of the team with our qualifying efforts recently. We finally won the right round — the last one."
Martin Truex Jr., who missed the first seven minutes of the first round of qualifying as his crew massaged the No. 78 Toyota in an effort to pass inspection, will start second in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 after posting a lap of 199.016 mph. Tony Stewart earned his best starting position of 2016 with a lap of 198.950 mph, followed by Denny Hamlin (198.774 mph), rookie Ryan Blaney (198.588 mph) and Ryan Newman (198.369 mph).
Kyle Larson — sans crew chief Chad Johnston, who was suspended due to a lug nut infraction — posted the seventh fastest lap (198.194 mph) in the final round of qualifying with Austin Dillon (198.014 mph), Kyle Busch (197.819 mph), rookie Chase Elliott (197.352 mph), Carl Edwards (196.549 mph) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (195.111 mph) setting the first six rows.
The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas of Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin went to the top early in the second round. However, Joey Logano’s lap of 199.994 mph earned the top spot.
Edwards was second with a lap of 199.181 mph, followed by Hamlin — who posted a lap of 199.115 mph — the first car on the track.
With less than a minute, Kyle Busch improved his speed to 198.692 mph and bumped Jamie McMurray (197.753 mph) out of the top 12.
Austin Dillon was fifth with a lap of 198.539 mph. Also transferring to the final round were Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (198.347 mph), Chase Elliott (198.342 mph), Tony Stewart (198.303 mph), Kyle Larson (198.254 mph), Ryan Blaney (198.145 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (198.003 mph) and Ryan Newman (197.906 mph) Trevor Bayne (197.873 mph). Jamie McMurray was the last man out and will start 13th on Sunday.
Time trials for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 was delayed by 30 minutes due to issues in inspection for two-thirds of the field following the introduction of a new aerodynamic package for Michigan.
Denny Hamlin had the top speed of 199.424 mph with 10 minutes remaining in the first round of time trials.
“I don’t know how comfortable,” Hamlin said of his lap, “but it was faster than everyone else so far.”
Hamlin held onto the spot throughout two cautions — the first at the 11:59:93-minute mark when NASCAR red-flagged the track for debris.
Joey Logano was second quick with a lap of 198.999 mph, followed by Carl Edwards (198.944 mph). After the second caution — triggered by David Ragan’s spin in Turn 3 at the 4:18:76 minute mark — the top 12 shifted. With three minutes remaining in the session, Ryan Blaney (198.648 mph), Tony Stewart (197.911 mph) and Greg Biffle (197.780 mph) jumped over Martin Truex Jr. (197.737 mph).
Kyle Busch (197.536 mph) was able to move into eighth followed by Ryan Newman (197.531 mph), Austin Dillon (197.493 mph), Ty Dillon (197.477 mph) and Chase Elliott (197.433 mph) comprised the fastest 12.
Kasey Kahne (197.358 mph), Trevor Bayne (197.341 mph), Jamie McMurray (197.320 mph), Matt Kenseth (197.309 mph), Chris Buescher (197.050 mph), Kurt Busch (197.031 mph), Kyle Larson (197.017 mph) Casey Mears (197.007 mph), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (196.813 mph), Brad Keselowski (196.619 mph), Jimmie Johnson (196.394 mph) and AJ Allmendinger (196.340 mph) transfered to the second round.
Kevin Harvick was bit by both cautions as he attempted his initial qualifying attempt — and then his second run. When he finally competed a lap of 195. 934 mph, Harvick was forced to settle for 29th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the other driver in the top 12 in Sprint Cup standings not to transfer to Round 2. Earnhardt’s best attempt was 196.078 mph.
“Common sense was pretty low there on when to throw the cautions,” Harvick said. “I think we were the only car on the race track — and debris up out of the groove. You could hold the cars at the end of pit road, but it is what it is. We’ll be fine, but there’s really not much you can do about it.”
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