News & Media


Logano surprises self with Infineon pole

June 24, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

SONOMA, Calif. -- Negotiating the right- and left-hand turns at Infineon Raceway like a veteran road-course racer, Joey Logano won the pole for the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

"I never looked at myself as a road-course racer," said Logano, who added that he found speed in his car after some post-practice adjustments improved the handling substantially.

Infineon

Lineup
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2.J. McMurray 93.223 76.848
3.P. Menard 93.176 76.887
4.D. Hamlin 93.081 76.965
5.R. Newman 93.062 76.981

The Coors Light Pole Award was the second for Logano, who posted a lap at 93.256 mph and watched as the 12 drivers who followed him in Friday's time trials failed to run faster.

* Out Front with Miss Coors Light: Rachel and Joey

Jamie McMurray (93.223 mph) qualified second, and Paul Menard (93.176 mph) claimed the third starting position for Sunday's race, the 16th of the season in the Sprint Cup Series.

Winning the pole was a welcome change for Logano, who has but one top-five finish this season and is 23rd in the Cup standings.

Those who might have expected road-course aces Marcos Ambrose and Juan Montoya to top the qualifying speed chart got a surprise. Ambrose posted the eighth-fastest time, and Montoya was 17th.

Denny Hamlin qualified fourth, followed by Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, A.J. Allmendinger and Ambrose.

"This is the last place that I figured we'd get a pole," Logano said. "After practice, I felt like we needed a lot more forward drive, a lot more side bite in the car, and they [the crew] made it happen.

"I was surprised. I felt like my lap was OK. I didn't feel like it was stellar -- by no means. And it held up. We were watching the last three cars out -- Kasey, who got the pole last year; Denny, our [Joe Gibbs Racing] teammate, who's really good here; and Kurt [Busch], who was [nearly) four-tenths [of a second] faster than everyone in practice and has gotten the last three poles. ...

"I didn't really think it was going to hold up, and I don't think any of my guys thought it was going to hold up, but we're really pumped up right now. We needed a good momentum change for our Home Depot team right now. We've been going through a little bit of a drought, and this is definitely going to help us a lot."

With qualifying order set by practice speeds, from slowest to fastest, Busch, trying to win his fourth consecutive Cup pole, was the last of the 44 cars to make an attempt.

"We were fastest in practice but just couldn't put down the qualifying lap that we needed," said Busch, who will start 11th on Sunday. "We missed it in Turns 4 and 7 and were just slow in 10. When you add all that up, you just can't give away that much time on this track."

After a disappointing practice and a 23rd-place qualifying effort, Cup points leader Carl Edwards withdrew from Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., to concentrate on practicing his Cup car.

* Edwards shifts gear, staying put at Sonoma

The defending winner at Road America, Edwards would have missed both Cup practices on Saturday had he flown to Wisconsin for the Nationwide race.

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Joey Logano scored his second career pole in his 91st race and first in three races at Infineon; his fist career pole came at Bristo in March 2010.
• Joey Logano is the youngest driver to score a road-course pole (21 years, 1 month); the previous youngest road-course pole winner was Parnelli Jones at Riverside in 1958 (24 years, 9 months, 18 days).
• Joey Logano's previous best road-course start was 12th in 2009 at Infineon.
• Joey Logano Was the 13th-fastest driver in the opening practice.
• Joe Gibbs Racing scored its 52nd career pole, second at Infineon (second on a road course) and first of 2011.
• Jamie McMurray (second) posted his third front-row start at Infineon.
• Paul Menard (third) posted his first top-10 start on a road course.
• Denny Hamlin (fourth) scored his first top-10 start at Infineon.
• Ryan Newman (fifth) posted his fifth top-10 start in the past six races at Infineon.
• Kasey Kahne (sixth) posted his sixth consecutive top-10 start at Infineon; he is the only driver in the top 10 with a road-course win.
• Kurt Busch (11th) ended a streak of three consecutive poles; he was fastest in the first practice.
• Mark Martin (16th) made two time-trial attempts because there was metal on the track during his first attempt; he picked up four-tenths on his second run (he would have started 25th based on his first run).
• Andy Pilgrim (43rd) will make his Cup debut.
• David Mayhew qualified the No. 66 in 38th; Michael McDowell is expected to race the car.
• Five drivers have won from the pole at Infineon, most recently Jeff Gordon in 2004.
• Seventeen of 22 races at Infineon have been won from a top-10 start, 14 from the top five.
• Three of the past five races at Infineon have been won from outside the top 10; two were won from 30th or worse.

Road-course specialist Tony Ave, subbing for Travis Kvapil in the No. 38 Ford, failed to qualify for the 43-car field.