In June’s first look at the lower downforce package proposed for 2017 at Michigan International Speedway, Joey Logano took the pole and went on to win the race in dominant fashion.
After Friday’s Coors Light Pole qualifying, Logano is halfway to repeating his June feat in August.
Logano went out a minute before anyone else and used the clean air to surge to the pole for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 with a time of 35.697 seconds. The result is Logano’s 17th-career pole, and his third of 2016.
The pole also gives Logano a chance to join two legends in the history books. Logano has two previous wins from the pole at Michigan (Aug. 2013, June 2016). A third win on Sunday would make Logano the third driver to accomplish such a feat at Michigan, joining NASCAR Hall of Fame members David Pearson and Bill Elliott.
“I was surprised after the first couple of rounds when we weren’t as fast as the last time we were here,” Logano said. “We were eighth going into the final round but great adjustments to find a little bit more speed out of this thing. I was down there waiting and Todd said, ‘Take it!’ So I said, ‘Yeah, I am going to take it.’ So I got pumped up and I had the attitude that we were going to grab it or we were going to crash. It worked out well.”
Joining Logano on the front row will be Jimmie Johnson, who ended the final round with a 35.728-second lap. Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott rounded out the top 5, with Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman completing the top 10.
For Bowman, it is the first time that the Arizona native has made the final round at NSCS qualifying. The third-year driver’s run comes in a substitute roll, filling in for Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who continues to sit out with concussion-like symptoms. Bowman previously subbed for Earnhardt at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, with Jeff Gordon returning from retirement to fill in for four other races. Gordon, who’s missing Michigan due to a prior commitment, will return to the No. 88 team at Darlington Raceway.
After pacing the field in round two, all eyes were on Kyle Larson to challenge for the pole, but the Californian got loose on his qualifying run and was relegated to 12th in the final round.
Many drivers considered contenders for Sunday failed to make the final round of qualifying. Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex, Jr., Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch will fill rows seven and eight after failing to advance. Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch also failed to advance.
One driver, Jeffrey Earnhardt, failed to make an attempt after crashing during the lone afternoon Cup Series practice. Earnhardt will start from the tail-end of the field after his Go FAS Racing team elected to go to the backup car.
The Sprint Cup Series will return to action on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. ET, when the field heads on-track for the first of two practice sessions.