Motorsports Notebook

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Joey Logano earns pole with track-record lap

By Jim Utter
jutter@charlotteobserver.com

JOLIET, Ill. Joey Logano will start the first race in the Chase with the best possible view.

Logano used a track record qualifying lap at 189.414 mph on Friday to claim the pole for Sunday’s GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the first of 10 races which will determine the 2013 Sprint Cup Series champion.

“I couldn’t wait for this day all week long. I am glad to get back in the race car and I was excited to roll out of the garage and get on the track,” said Logano, who earned his second pole of the season and seventh of his career.

Penske Racing swept the front row as Logano’s teammate, reigning Cup series champion Brad Keselowski, qualified second. Juan Pablo Montoya was third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fifth.

Besides Logano and Kahne, five others drivers competing in the Chase qualified in the Top 10: Jeff Gordon (sixth), Greg Biffle (seventh), Carl Edwards (eighth), Jimmie Johnson (ninth) and Matt Kenseth (10th).

The remainder of the Chase contenders will line up as follows: Kyle Busch, 12th; Kurt Busch, 16th; Kevin Harvick, 17th; Dale Earnhardt Jr. 18th; Ryan Newman, 20th; and Clint Bowyer, 24th.

Kenseth enters the Chase as the No. 1 seed.

Michael Waltrip will remain as Fox analyst: Fox Sports provided the Observer with a statement in which it said despite the controversy surrounding Michael Waltrip Racing this week, team co-owner Michael Waltrip will remain as an analyst for the network.

“We were disappointed in the events that occurred in Richmond Saturday night, and we applaud NASCAR for acting to rectify the situation swiftly. Michael has expressed his regret over what occurred, and we believe him to be a man of integrity,” the statement said.

“As a NASCAR on FOX broadcaster, he’s demonstrated an ability to separate his roles as a driver/owner and an opinionated analyst of the sport, and we expect him to continue as an analyst for us going forward.”

Earnhardt Jr. missing member of pit crew: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be without one of his regular pit crew members, at least for several weeks in the Chase.

Hendrick Motorsports officials confirmed Friday that rear tire changer Joe Slingerland suffered a serious injury in a non-work related accident earlier this week and will miss much if not all of the Chase. David Mayo will fill-in for Slingerland during his absence.

Slingerland told the Web site PitTalks.com he suffered a broken wrist and concussion in a accident at the U.S. National Whitewater Center on Tuesday night.

Kurt Busch gets new pit crew member: In an effort to address some of its mistakes on pit road this season with Kurt Busch’s No. 78 team, Furniture Row Racing has added a new front tire changer, Matt Humphries, to its pit crew beginning with Sunday’s race.

Humphries comes from Richard Childress Racing, where he works on its No. 2 Nationwide Series team. FRR and RCR have been working together this season as part of a technical alliance.

Utter: 704-358-5113
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