Joey Logano won the Busch Light Pole Award for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Saturday’s qualifying session.
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series champion drove his No. 22 Team Penske Ford to a pole speed of 177.374 mph, besting teammate Austin Cindric for the premier spot on the starting grid.
Following the pair were Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola to round out the top five.
“Nobody really knows what they have for handling yet, but hopefully we have a little bit of both in this thing and we can control the race,” Logano said. “Obviously, Team Penske had a great day today and we’ll try to continue that tomorrow.”
Series points leader Kevin Harvick finished the final round in sixth with a 176.769 mph hot lap. Fords swept the top eight qualifying spots, with Kyle Larson as the top Chevrolet driver in ninth and Christopher Bell’s Toyota completing the top 10.
That’s the first time since 1965 at Beltsville (Md.) that Fords have qualified for the top eight spots on the grid. Saturday’s result is even more impressive, given that no Chevrolets attempted to qualify for the Beltsville race, where Fords took positions one through 10.
“I’m hoping it’s transferable to the race,” Logano said of Ford’s Saturday qualifying strength. “I think it’s pretty obvious at this point throughout the field where certain manufacturers have gone over the offseason with some of their changes to the noses and whatnot. It’s pretty obvious that this is kind of our wheelhouse – when you come to superspeedways or bigger race tracks like Fontana, Michigan, Atlanta, Talladega, Daytona. I think those will probably be our strongest race tracks and it kind of showed again today.”
Qualifying was not immune to a handful of spins and skids, headlined by BJ McLeod and Ty Gibbs in the opening round and Christopher Bell during the final round. Ford dominated the opening round, spearheaded by Logano. Eight of the top 10 machines to qualify for the final round were Fords.
Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET (FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). It’s the fifth race of the Cup Series season.
The Busch Light Pole Award was Logano’s second of the season, second at Atlanta (but first with NASCAR’s superspeedway competition package) and 28th of his career. Inevitably, Logano’s success on the big track brought back memories of his early days in racing, when he competed in Legends cars at Atlanta.
“I’ve never been on the front row at a superspeedway – forget a pole,” Logano said. “Doing it here at Atlanta for me is special. So many memories here. I lived up in one of those condos for five years and raced Legends cars out here for six years. Just the memories of walking into Victory Lane a minute ago to get the pole award and thinking about driving my Legend car in there, with my dad and how cool that was, and always dreaming about being on the big track when I was running the quarter-mile all the time. …
“I guess I try to keep those thoughts up front in my mind.”
Contributing: Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service