NASCAR Sprint Cup: Joey Logano wins pole for Las Vegas race

For the second consecutive race weekend, no one was able to knock off Team Penske in knockout qualifying.

Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski claimed the front row for the second race in a row, this week with Logano starting from the pole in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Last weekend at Phoenix, Keselowski started from the pole with Logano starting alongside. The pole is the eighth of Logano’s Sprint Cup Series career.

“I told him we’re 1-1 now,” Logano said. “He’s got one and I’ve got one. It’s a privilege to drive these cars. It’s so much fun.”

Friday’s knock out qualifying session was the first this season on a superspeedway and utilizing three elimination rounds to settle on the starting lineup.

Brian Vickers posted the fastest lap in the first round, Logano was fastest in the second round and again in the third round, when he set the track qualifying record with an average lap speed at 193.278 mph.

The previous record of 190.456 mph was set by Kasey Kahne in March 2012.

“We’re all still learning what the best strategy is, when to go, when to cool your motor off, when to do all this stuff,” Logano said of the new qualifying format. “We have an idea what we want to do. We’ve studied it as much as we can.

“All you can do is find the biggest hole that you can (between other cars) and make sure you lay down the best lap you can. That’s what I get paid to do.”

Clint Bowyer will line up third, Austin Dillon fourth and Jimmie Johnson fifth.

Keselowski credited Team Penske’s quick grasp on NASCAR’s new qualifying format to a relatively simple concept: fast cars.

“When you’ve got fast cars it makes your life a lot easier, and Team Penske has done a great job of finding the speed in qualifying trim,” he said. “We need a little bit more in race trim.

“I think we saw last weekend in Phoenix and a little bit on the first day of testing here in Vegas. I’m proud of where we’re at.”

Once again there were some close calls on the track during the qualifying rounds with cars running at full speed nearly missing cars running well off the pace while attempting to cool their engines between runs.

Vickers, who was fastest in the first session, found the experience particularly troublesome Friday.

“The biggest thing that disturbed me about the whole deal are the policies on qualifying,” he said. “We don’t have impact data on 170-180 mph differential impacts. If I hit someone with those speed discrepancies that’s going to be really bad for everyone.

“Unquestionably it’s more exciting for the fans. It’s fun, interesting, but there are some things that have to take place. That’s the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in a race car.”

Bowyer, Vickers’ teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing, found the session and the outcome exciting, but also wondered about the speed differential of cars on the track.

“Our normal deal is to be scared once a weekend – three times is a lot to ask out of us,” Bowyer said of the qualifying format.

“I really hope that NASCAR looks at that – that first (round) everybody’s out there going fast, you’re 200 miles an hour out there and cars that aren’t even running (laps) are running about 40 (mph).”

Five drivers failed to make the 43-car field: Blake Koch, Landon Cassill, Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek and J.J. Yeley.

Kobalt 400 Lineup

Friday qualifying; Sunday lineup

At Las Vegas Motor Speedway

St No. Driver Car Speed
1 22 Joey Logano Ford 193.278
2 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 193.099
3 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 192.713
4 3 Austin Dillon Chevy 192.678
5 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy 192.596
6 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 192.596
7 1 Jamie McMurray Chevy 192.397
8 43 Aric Almirola Ford 192.335
9 55 Brian Vickers Toyota 192.260
10 31 Ryan Newman Chevy 191.939
11 99 Carl Edwards Ford 191.591
12 78 Martin Truex Jr. Chevy 191.510
13 5 Kasey Kahne Chevy 191.659
14 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 191.618
15 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy 191.618
16 4 Kevin Harvick Chevy 191.598
17 42 Kyle Larson Chevy 191.496
18 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevy 191.489
19 66 Jeff Burton Toyota 191.435
20 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 191.381
21 27 Paul Menard Chevy 190.934
22 10 Danica Patrick Chevy 190.543
23 41 Kurt Busch Chevy 190.503
24 14 Tony Stewart Chevy 189.514
25 16 Greg Biffle Ford 190.396
26 34 David Ragan Ford 189.893
27 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 189.767
28 26 Cole Whitt Toyota 189.647
29 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 189.328
30 13 Casey Mears Chevy 189.261
31 98 Josh Wise Chevy 188.851
32 30 Parker Kligerman Toyota 188.838
33 38 David Gilliland Ford 188.686
34 21 Trevor Bayne Ford 188.429
35 95 Michael McDowell Ford 188.271
36 23 Alex Bowman Toyota 188.166
37 51 Justin Allgaier Chevy Points
38 7 Michael Annett Chevy Points
39 83 Ryan Truex Toyota Points
40 36 Reed Sorenson Chevy Points
41 33 Timmy Hill Chevy Points
42 32 Travis Kvapil Ford Points
43 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Points
Failed to qualify
44 35 Blake Koch Ford 186.683
45 40 Landon Cassill Chevy 186.207
46 77 Dave Blaney Ford 186.143
47 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 182.822
48 44 J.J. Yeley Chevy 181.044
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