By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
HAMPTON, Ga. – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole winner Kurt Busch seems to have adapted to the 2016 low-downforce competition without missing a beat, but the same can’t be said for Team Penske driver Joey Logano, one of the preseason favorites to win the series title this year.
Logano, who garnered the Coors Light Pole Award at Atlanta Motor Speedway last year, wasn’t close to having his No. 22 Ford dialed in when the series returned to the 1.54-mile track on Friday. The six-time pole winner from 2015 was 26th fastest in the first round of knockout qualifying, failing to transfer into the second round by .054 seconds.
“We were just really loose,” Logano said after his second attempt to crack the top 24. “I don’t really understand. We weren’t super-fast in practice, but we were a top-10 car for sure. We were really, really loose the first run and made some changes, but it’s hard to go fast here the second run when tires wear out so much. We did go a little faster, but that one kind of hurts.
“We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got a little bit of work to do. It’s obviously a new package, and we apparently don’t have our heads wrapped around it perfectly yet, but we’ll get it. We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep digging. It’s still a long weekend here. I thought we were pretty good in race trim. We just have to race a little bit from the back now.”
Based on Saturday’s final practice, however, Logano still has work to do. The No. 22 Ford was 32nd fastest on the Happy Hour speed chart.
Image: NASCAR Media Group