Joey Logano showed that he is the favorite in the first race of NASCAR’s third round of the Chase Friday. Logano, who has won the last three races and who was fastest in practice earlier in the day, put down a lap of 98.548 miles per hour and will lead the field to the green Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. It was Logano’s series high sixth pole of the season, his second of the year at Martinsville and the 15th of his career.
“It’s an amazing run we’re on right now,” Logano said. “I’m just the lucky guy that gets to drive this thing right now. It’s so much fun. We’re doing everything right, but all of that can end in a blink of an eye, so we just have to keep our focus. “
It also marks the second time this season he has swept the poles, the first coming at Richmond. Martin Truex Jr. will roll off second, AJ Allmendinger third, Jamie McMurray fourth and Jeff Gordon in fifth.
“I don’t think anybody had a shot at Joey (Logano), really,” Gordon said. “He’s in a league of his own and he has been here, qualifying all year. But we wanted to make a big effort at it and I felt like we did.”
Six of the eight Chase drivers qualified in the top 12. Kyle Busch will start sixth, Brad Keselowski 11th, and Kevin Harvick 12th. Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch failed to advance to the final round; Edwards will start 14th, Kurt Busch 15th.
“I just wasn’t fast enough the very first run so I put a run on the tires and got us a cycle behind everyone,” Edwards said. “It’s okay, we’re going to be just fine. I think in my history of qualifying here, this is still about 10 spots better than normal…I’m going to have some fun on Sunday.”
Landon Cassill led the first group of five cars out for the first round of three that lasted 20 minutes; Sam Hornish Jr. was the fastest of the first five with a speed of 97.397. After the first five left the track, Jimmie Johnson came out with David Gilliland close behind. Johnson went to third, just before McMurray jumped to the top with a speed of 98.599. Justin Allgaier went second near the 14:00 minute mark. By the 13-minute mark, 18 cars had taken time just as Truex Jr. took the second spot, Hamlin was fourth behind Allgaier, Hornish fifth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. worked his way up to fourth near the 11-minute mark. He went third a lap later just after Tony Stewart had grabbed the second spot. Jeff Gordon went to second near the 10-minute mark, Truex was third, Earnhardt fourth and Stewart had dropped to fifth. Danica Patrick was sixth with just over nine minute mark, Kevin Harvick shot to second near the eight minute mark; Matt Kenseth was fourth, Earnhardt fifth.
With 6:20 to go Kasey Kahne was on a hot lap when something appeared to break in the rear of his Chevy entering turn 1. The rear of the car smacked the wall hard and he was able to drive away but with heavy damage. He was forced to a backup car and will start at the rear of the field Sunday. After a short red flag, the session restarted. Johnson was bumped from the top 24 with just over four minutes to go. Clint Bowyer had moved to second behind McMurray. Joey Logano to fourth behind Harvick, AJ Allmendinger was fifth. Edwards moved to third with three minutes remaining.
With 1:50 to go, Brad Keselowski was near the cutoff spot and came back out to try to move up. Johnson came back out and went 19th, Keselowski to 20th a lap later. When the first session ended, McMurray led, Bowyer was second, Edwards third, Harvick fourth, Logano was fifth. Hornish was the last car to transfer.
Bowyer went out first in the second session, he went to the top for a lap until McMurray went to the top followed by Stewart. Gordon went to the top with just 6:30 to go. Kyle Busch was fourth behind McMurray, Stewart fifth.
Harvick went to the top at the five-minute mark, Truex went to third behind Gordon shortly after. Hamlin went fifth with just over four minutes to go. Keselowski, and Logano were among those who went out late, at the 2:50 mark. Logano’s second lap sent him to the top, Keselowski was 11th, he slipped to the bubble spot as the time counted down. Johnson was the final driver to try and bump him out but gave up. Logano was first, followed by Harvick, Gordon, Truex and McMurray.
Edwards and Kurt Busch failed to advance, as did notables, Johnson, Stewart, Kenseth and Earnhardt Jr.
Logano went out among the first and grabbed the top spot with a speed of 98.548 Truex was second, Harvick third. Allmendinger and Kyle Larson were out near the two-minute mark; Allmendinger went to third, Larson fourth. McMurray went fourth, Newman fifth with less than a minute to go. Gordon went to fifth as the time wound down. Keselowski was the last car out and took one final flying lap, scrapping the wall, but could only muster 11th.
Behind Kyle Busch, Newman will started seventh, Aric Almirola eight, Larson ninth and Hamlin tenth. The full lineup can be found here. With 43 cars entered, everyone made the field. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 gets the green flag Sunday just after 1:15 p.m. ET with live coverage on the NBC Sports Network.