With a new aerodynamic package being used at Michigan International Speedway, Joey Logano was happy his No. 22 Ford made it through qualifying for Sunday’s Firekeepers Casino 400 in one piece.
“These cars are out of control,” Logano said after winning his second pole of the season with a final-round lap of 199.557 mph. “But it’s a lot of fun.”
The new, lower-downforce package, forces drivers to brake more than they’re used to going into the corners at the fast Michigan track.
“You’re booking down the straightaway at 200-something (mph) and it feels really fast,” Logano said. “Then you get to the corner and have to figure out what you’re going to do.”
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Martin Truex Jr. will start alongside Logano on the front row, with Tony Stewart (third) and Denny Hamlin (fourth) on the second row.
It’s the second consecutive impressive qualifying performance for Stewart, who started sixth last week at Pocono (he finished 34th after wrecking with teammate Danica Patrick). Stewart, who missed the first eight races of the season with a fractured vertebrae, is 36th in the points standings. He needs to win a race and finish in the top 30 to qualify for the Chase.
▪ Brad Keselowski said he and Jeff Gordon met and shook hands after their very public disagreement earlier this week at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
Keselowski was upset how Gordon, who retired from driving after last season and is now a commentator on Fox, characterized an improper body modification pit-road penalty against Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford.
Keselowski said after the race that Gordon could not be objective in the booth because he is a part-owner in Jimmie Johnson’s team.
And while Keselowski said he and Gordon appeared to make up this week, he didn’t back down from his sentiments.
“I feel like if you are in the booth or invested in the sport, then you should probably out from conversations that are a conflict of interest,” said Keselowski, who has been a guest commentator for Xfinity races.
Keselowski said if a Team Penske driver were involved in an incident during an Xfinity race in which he was broadcasting, he “shouldn’t say anything.”
▪ A groundhog got loose on the track and delayed Friday’s Xfinity practice for 10 minutes. It took a while for the NASCAR crew to corral the rodent, finally directing it into a large canister. Earlier, the groundhog escaped after the crew members thought they had it trapped in a bucket. The groundhog was safely moved a wooded 65-acre piece of property near the speedway.
▪ NASCAR announced a campaign with Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) that will feature a public service announcement including several drivers (Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr.) condemning racism.