BROOKLYN, Mich. – The Ford drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series apparently took the words of Edsel Ford II to heart.
At a dinner with Ford drivers on Thursday night, the member of the Ford Motor Company board of directors emphasized the importance of putting a Mustang in Victory Lane after Monday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway (5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
On Saturday morning at the 2-mile track, Joey Logano took the first step toward fulfilling the mission outlined by the Henry Ford’s great-grandson. Taking a racing line that differed from that of his competitors, Logano covered the distance in 38.474 seconds (187.139 mph) to win the pole position for Monday’s race.
In winning his second Busch Pole Award of the season, his fourth at Michigan and the 22nd of his career, Logano led five Fords into the top six in time trials, edging Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola (187.047 mph) for the top starting spot by .019 seconds.
Logano demolished the rest of the field through Turn 3 and 4, entering the corner on the high side, arcing to the bottom in the center of the corner and getting off the bottom sooner than almost every other driver.
How did Logano develop the line he ran?
“I just got lucky—it was all luck,” Logano quipped. “Of course, we all work at things. We all try to figure things out and try to take an advantage when you have it. It’s always short-lived, but today we were able to take advantage of a lot of things and be able to have a fast car.
“Our (No. 22) Shell/Pennzoil Ford definitely has speed in it, for sure, especially for one lap. Hopefully, that maintains throughout the race to where we can stay up there. That (No. 1) pit stall is going to help a lot. The first pit stall here is quite the advantage. It’s nice to have that, and hopefully it keeps us up front and keeps us out of the big chaotic mess that I think is going to be toward the middle of the pack.”
But did the lap go according to plan.
“It was all luck,” Logano joked again. “Of course, it’s planned—I drive the car. I’m still the driver. At least it went where I told it to go. That part really helped a lot.”
Almirola’s Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Ford wound up second in the qualifying session ahead of Monday’s 200-lap, 400-mile event. Almirola is scheduled to start second for the fourth time this season.
“Close but no cigar,” Almirola said. “What is that old saying, ‘Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?’ … That is frustrating to get that close to getting a pole that often and only have one pole (this season). We seem to always get beat just by a little bit by somebody different every time. That is part of it.”
Kevin Harvick, a teammate to Almirola in the No. 4 Ford, was third with Denny Hamlin fourth and defending race winner Clint Bowyer completing the top five in another Stewart-Haas Racing entry. Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota was the only non-Ford among the top six. A total of eight Fords claimed the top 10 qualifying spots.
Monday’s event is the 15th of 36 points-paying races on the Monster Energy Series schedule. A dozen races remain in the regular season before the 16-driver playoff field is set.
Contributing: Staff reports