No driver has been better in qualifying this season than Joey Logano, who demonstrated his superiority by capturing a series-best fifth pole position Friday at Richmond International Raceway.
Logano’s lap of 126.470 miles per hour topped Matt Kenseth, who had posted the fastest speed in the opening two rounds. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and David Ragan completed the top five.
“We weren’t able to put down a fast lap in practice, but I felt like as we kept working on it that we were a little better at the end of practice,” Logano said. “But we didn’t have another set of tires to put back on. It was a little bit of an unknown going into qualifying and I didn’t know where we would stack up.”
Richmond is the final race of the regular season. The field for the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup, which begins next week at Chicagoland Speedway, is largely determined but could change if a driver without a victory wins Saturday night. Among those winless, Ragan qualified the best with Tony Stewart (10th), Kyle Larson (11th) and Austin Dillon (12th) all advancing to the final round of the knockout format.
“We showed up here with one goal in mind and that’s to win the race and put ourselves in position,” Ragan said. “We weren’t that great in qualifying trim so I didn’t know what to expect, but obviously we have a good car.”
Several notable names will start the Federated Auto Parts 400 towards the back following disappointing qualifying runs. Jeff Gordon qualified 23rd, Denny Hamlin 25th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 29th.
“We have been struggling all year in qualifying and it just doesn’t look like it is getting much better,” Earnhardt said. “… Just real frustrated.”
Josh Wise and Timmy Hill failed to qualify.
Federated Auto Parts 400 starting lineup