KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Joey Logano strengthened his standing as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ 2015 Qualifying Meister on Friday night as he won the Coors Light Pole Award for Saturday night’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway.
The pole was the fourth in 11 attempts this year for the Team Penske driver and his second in the last three weeks.
“Definitely cool to get another pole,” Logano said.
Logano, who had never won more than two poles in a season in his previous six full seasons in Cup, was asked about his sudden ability to dominate in qualifying.
“Last year it took us pretty much the whole year to get one pole,” he said. “We won a lot of first and second sessions but we’d fall on our face in the third session. So it’s pretty special to be able to figure out these third sessions and still have a lot of speed in our car when we get to those rounds. You don’t get anything for winning the first and second rounds is what I figured out last year.”
Logano nailed the pole with a lap at 192.397 mph and in 28.067 seconds in his Team Penske Ford. It was a lap that knocked teammate Brad Keselowski (who posted a lap at 191.857 mph/28.146 seconds) off the pole and it was a lap that kept Kasey Kahne (191.911 mph/28.138 seconds) of Hendrick Motorsports from knocking Logano off late in the third and final round of knockout qualifying.
Keselowski will start P3 on Saturday.
Next to him in the second row will be Martin Truex Jr. in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.
There were several surprises in Friday’s qualifying session.
Perhaps the biggest of those was the performance of Erik Jones. The 18-year-old Jones, who is occupying the seat of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota because of the injury to regular driver Kyle Busch, was making his first qualifying run in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Jones responded by advancing to the final round and then putting down a lap that was sixth fastest.
“I thought it was pretty good,” Jones, who earlier in the day posted the fastest lap in the final Cup practice of the day, said. “It was nice to make the final round, it was good for us. Our teammates are pretty fast this weekend and I’ve been leaning on them.”
Also issuing an interesting surprise was Greg Biffle. Biffle, driving the No. 16 Ford, became the first Roush Fenway Racing driver to advance to a final round of knockout qualifying. His lap at 191.015 mph was the seventh fastest of the final round.
“We just got a little better speed in our car and this race track has been pretty good for us,” Biffle, a former winner at Kansas, said. “We barely made the first round and barely made the second and then I just drove it – over drove it. I just said I was going to go for it. I didn’t care what happened. I was 11th so I kind of had nothing to lose and that is a hell of an improvement and a great accomplishment. The fact is though that we have to find that speed for the race now and we are celebrating a seventh and three years ago we would be mad right now. I am excited we are seventh and not 27th but at the same time we will keep our head down and keep improving on it.”
Carl Edwards, who during a press conference earlier on Friday beat himself up pretty badly for getting off to a slow start in his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing, advanced to the final round of qualifying and will start fifth.
“We’ve really tried to focus all of our efforts,” Edwards said after qualifying. “We’ve had bad luck and some problems and it’s time to really get going here. Everybody has really stepped up and our Stanley Toyota is great. If we can just have a good, solid race tomorrow and perform the way we know we can then it’s going to be great. And Erik Jones has helped a ton today too so everybody is coming together and hopefully it yields a good result.”
Edwards led the first round of qualifying as he went out early in the 20-minute session, posted a lap at 192.342 mph. Second fastest was Logano of with a lap at 191.904 mph.
In the second, 24-driver round, Truex Jr. went out to take his lap with just over five minutes left in the 10-minute round and responded with a session-best lap at 191.986 mph. It was a lap that kept Edwards from topping both sessions.
Failing to make the third round were such notables as six-time champion Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports, teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., and former series champions Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth.
The only driver to miss the race was Brendan Gaughan, who was driving the No. 62 of Premium Motorsports.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying – SpongeBob SquarePants 400
Kansas City, Kansas
Friday, May 08, 2015
1. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 192.397 mph.
2. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 191.911 mph.
3. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 191.857 mph.
4. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 191.782 mph.
5. (19) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 191.578 mph.
6. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 191.299 mph.
7. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 191.015 mph.
8. (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 190.853 mph.
9. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 190.228 mph.
10. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 190.154 mph.
11. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 189.900 mph.
12. (18) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, 189.540 mph.
13. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 190.712 mph.
14. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 190.691 mph.
15. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 190.557 mph.
16. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 190.510 mph.
17. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 190.496 mph.
18. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 190.476 mph.
19. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 190.282 mph.
20. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 190.228 mph.
21. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 190.188 mph.
22. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 190.047 mph.
23. (55) David Ragan, Toyota, 189.760 mph.
24. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 189.175 mph.
25. (51) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 189.607 mph.
26. (9) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 189.434 mph.
27. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 189.347 mph.
28. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 189.162 mph.
29. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 188.917 mph.
30. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 188.904 mph.
31. (95) Michael McDowell, Ford, 188.904 mph.
32. (33) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 188.818 mph.
33. (26) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 188.613 mph.
34. (35) Cole Whitt, Ford, 187.748 mph.
35. (83) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 187.669 mph.
36. (7) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 187.559 mph.
37. (23) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, Owner Points
38. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, Owner Points
39. (34) Brett Moffitt #, Ford, Owner Points
40. (98) Josh Wise, Ford, Owner Points
41. (40) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, Owner Points
42. (32) Joey Gase(i), Ford, Owner Points
43. (46) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, Owner Points
1 drivers failed to qualify.
44. (62) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, 183.936 mph.
Jim Pedley – NASCAR Wire Service