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NASCAR Sprint Cup: Joey Logano wins pole for Las Vegas race

Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 3:15 p.m. Sunday, FOX

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Mar. 07, 2014
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    Penske driver Joey Logano will start on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 pole after turning Friday's fastest lap during qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

  • 477173199

    Getty Images

    Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, signs the backdrop after turning the fastest lap during Friday's qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

For the second consecutive race weekend, no one was able to knock off Team Penske in knockout qualifying.

Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski claimed the front row for the second race in a row, this week with Logano starting from the pole in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Last weekend at Phoenix, Keselowski started from the pole with Logano starting alongside. The pole is the eighth of Logano’s Sprint Cup Series career.

“I told him we’re 1-1 now,” Logano said. “He’s got one and I’ve got one. It’s a privilege to drive these cars. It’s so much fun.”

Friday’s knock out qualifying session was the first this season on a superspeedway and utilizing three elimination rounds to settle on the starting lineup.

Brian Vickers posted the fastest lap in the first round, Logano was fastest in the second round and again in the third round, when he set the track qualifying record with an average lap speed at 193.278 mph.

The previous record of 190.456 mph was set by Kasey Kahne in March 2012.

“We’re all still learning what the best strategy is, when to go, when to cool your motor off, when to do all this stuff,” Logano said of the new qualifying format. “We have an idea what we want to do. We’ve studied it as much as we can.

“All you can do is find the biggest hole that you can (between other cars) and make sure you lay down the best lap you can. That’s what I get paid to do.”

Clint Bowyer will line up third, Austin Dillon fourth and Jimmie Johnson fifth.

Keselowski credited Team Penske’s quick grasp on NASCAR’s new qualifying format to a relatively simple concept: fast cars.

“When you’ve got fast cars it makes your life a lot easier, and Team Penske has done a great job of finding the speed in qualifying trim,” he said. “We need a little bit more in race trim.

“I think we saw last weekend in Phoenix and a little bit on the first day of testing here in Vegas. I’m proud of where we’re at.”

Once again there were some close calls on the track during the qualifying rounds with cars running at full speed nearly missing cars running well off the pace while attempting to cool their engines between runs.

Vickers, who was fastest in the first session, found the experience particularly troublesome Friday.

“The biggest thing that disturbed me about the whole deal are the policies on qualifying,” he said. “We don’t have impact data on 170-180 mph differential impacts. If I hit someone with those speed discrepancies that’s going to be really bad for everyone.

“Unquestionably it’s more exciting for the fans. It’s fun, interesting, but there are some things that have to take place. That’s the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in a race car.”

Bowyer, Vickers’ teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing, found the session and the outcome exciting, but also wondered about the speed differential of cars on the track.

“Our normal deal is to be scared once a weekend – three times is a lot to ask out of us,” Bowyer said of the qualifying format.

“I really hope that NASCAR looks at that – that first (round) everybody’s out there going fast, you’re 200 miles an hour out there and cars that aren’t even running (laps) are running about 40 (mph).”

Five drivers failed to make the 43-car field: Blake Koch, Landon Cassill, Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek and J.J. Yeley.

Kobalt 400 Lineup

Friday qualifying; Sunday lineup

At Las Vegas Motor Speedway

St No. Driver Car Speed
122Joey LoganoFord193.278
22Brad KeselowskiFord193.099
315Clint BowyerToyota192.713
43Austin DillonChevy192.678
548Jimmie JohnsonChevy192.596
617Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Ford192.596
71Jamie McMurrayChevy192.397
843Aric AlmirolaFord192.335
955Brian VickersToyota192.260
1031Ryan NewmanChevy191.939
1199Carl EdwardsFord191.591
1278Martin Truex Jr.Chevy191.510
135Kasey KahneChevy191.659
1488Dale Earnhardt Jr.Chevy191.618
1524Jeff GordonChevy191.618
164Kevin HarvickChevy191.598
1742Kyle LarsonChevy191.496
1847AJ AllmendingerChevy191.489
1966Jeff BurtonToyota191.435
2018Kyle BuschToyota191.381
2127Paul MenardChevy190.934
2210Danica PatrickChevy190.543
2341Kurt BuschChevy190.503
2414Tony StewartChevy189.514
2516Greg BiffleFord190.396
2634David RaganFord189.893
2711Denny HamlinToyota189.767
2826Cole WhittToyota189.647
2920Matt KensethToyota189.328
3013Casey MearsChevy189.261
3198Josh WiseChevy188.851
3230Parker KligermanToyota188.838
3338David GillilandFord188.686
3421Trevor BayneFord188.429
3595Michael McDowellFord188.271
3623Alex BowmanToyota188.166
3751Justin AllgaierChevyPoints
387Michael AnnettChevyPoints
3983Ryan TruexToyotaPoints
4036Reed SorensonChevyPoints
4133Timmy HillChevyPoints
4232Travis KvapilFordPoints
439Marcos AmbroseFordPoints
Failed to qualify
4435Blake KochFord186.683
4540Landon CassillChevy186.207
4677Dave BlaneyFord186.143
4787Joe NemechekToyota182.822
4844J.J. YeleyChevy181.044

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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