ThatsRacin

NASCAR’s Joey Logano arrives at Martinsville on a mission

Joey Logano won his third consecutive pole at Martinsville Speedway on Friday.
Joey Logano won his third consecutive pole at Martinsville Speedway on Friday. AP

Joey Logano has come to Martinsville Speedway with an attitude.

Spurred by a controversial wreck during last fall’s race at Martinsville, Logano took the first step toward what he hopes is a successful weekend Friday by winning the pole for Sunday’s STP 500.

Fueling Logano is the still-fresh memory of a late-race accident involving him and Matt Kenseth during October’s race at Martinsville.

Kenseth, who was several laps down at the time, knocked Logano into the first-turn wall, ending the day for both drivers.

It was an apparent retaliation from Kenseth to Logano, who had knocked Kenseth out of the way on his way to winning at Kansas two weeks before. The Kansas victory was Logano’s second in the Chase and all but knocked Kenseth out of title contention.

I was jacked to come up here and show what we’re made of.

Joey Logano

“It’s hard to erase if from your mind,” said Logano. “It’s there. It happened. It’s in the past, though, but it does drive you. You use it to motivate you and your team. I was jacked to come up here and show what we’re made of. This is a good start.”

Logano said he watched a replay of the race Thursday night before going to bed.

“I went to sleep not very happy,” he said.

The Logano-Kenseth feud became one of the bigger stories in last season’s Chase. Kenseth was suspended and fined for causing the wreck, and NASCAR chief Brian France said there was no place in the sport for that kind of driving.

Still, Martinsville is using a replay of the wreck in a promotional video (a marketing tactic that neither driver has criticized) to help sell tickets.

“Yeah, it stirred up controversy but what do people want me to show, the pace laps?” track president Clay Campbell told the Associated Press.

Logano won the pole in his Ford with a lap of 97.043 mph on Martinsville’s paper clip-shaped short track. Starting alongside Logano is Chevy-driving Kasey Kahne, who is winless in his last 52 races.

It’s Logano’s record-tying, third consecutive pole at Martinsville, a feat that has happened four other times in track history (Glen Wood, Darrell Waltrip, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon have also done it).

“I don’t think we’re that far off,” said Kahne. “When you’re on the front two rows, there’s a big difference: what you feel about the car, think about the car, what the (crew) thinks about it. Being on the front row shows we’re plenty capable.”

Notes

▪ Winning a race and already likely locking in a spot in the Trucks’ Chase hasn’t helped John Hunter Nemechek’s pursuit of a sponsor. Nemechek, who took his second career checkered flag when he won at Atlanta earlier this season, doesn’t have backing for his No. 8 Chevy for Saturday’s Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville.

Nemechek, 18, said the phone at his Mooresville-based NEMCO Motorsports shop has been ringing, but no deals have been struck.

Nemechek had the second-fastest time in Friday’s second qualifying session (91.958 mph), behind Cole Custer’s 95.694.

▪ Rookie Ryan Blaney was to attend an open house Friday night at his Wood Brothers team’s Stuart, Va., museum.

“They aren’t coming to see me,” said Blaney, who said the event attracted about 5,000 fans the last time it was held. “They’re going to come out to see the Wood Brothers.”

Blaney is driving the Woods’ No. 21 Ford, which returns to Martinsville for the first time since 2011. The Woods are racing as one of the Cup series’ “open” teams, meaning they are not one of 36 “charter” teams.

▪ Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Danica Patrick drove in a Goodyear Tire test Tuesday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

▪ Trevor Bayne wrecked his No. 6 Ford in Friday’s practice and will drive a back-up car Sunday.

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