Daytona 500 winner and runner-up will line up 1-2 at Atlanta RELATED: Full race lineup " Photos of the full 43-car field HAMPTON, Ga. -- When you're hot, you're hot. Joey Logano, last week's Daytona 500 winner, didn't slow down one iota on Friday in the first competition of the year at an open-motor track. With a lap at 194.683 mph in the final round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series knockout qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Logano put his No. 22 Team Penske Ford on the pole for Sunday's Fold of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET on FOX). Logano toured the 1.54-mile intermediate speedway in 28.477 seconds, .131 seconds faster than the lap at 193.793 mph posted by reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick. Jamie McMurray was third fastest at 193.623 mph. Denny Hamlin (193.400 mph) qualified fourth for the second race of the season, followed by new Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards (193.137 mph). Like Logano, Jeff Gordon was hot, but for a completely different reason. Gordon was one of 13 drivers whose car failed to clear inspection before time trials began, even though NASCAR delayed the start of qualifying for 15 minutes. Accordingly, Gordon was not allowed to make a qualifying attempt in the first round. The list of those who failed to pass pre-qualifying inspection included three other past champions: Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart. Logano and his team, on the other hand, did everything right. And he defied conventional wisdom on a track with old pavement that typically abrades tires. Logano posted his fastest lap of the session in the third and final round. "Our first run today in practice, we were faster on our second run on scuffs, so I knew that the grip would stay in the tires for at least two runs," said Logano, who won his first Coors Light Pole Award at Atlanta and the ninth of his career. "I didn't know about the third run, but apparently the third run also… "It was probably right at the limit, though. Probably the next run after that, it would have taken a pretty big jump down." Though Harvick qualified second, he believes he'll have a strong long-run car in Sunday’s race. Even so, Harvick felt he left some speed out on the race track. "I just did a bad job," he said. "In Round 1 I missed Turn 1, and in the last round, I missed Turn 1 again and just didn't get to the bottom like I needed to in order to get back in the throttle." Note: Mike Wallace, Matt DiBenedetto, Michael Annett and Reed Sorenson failed to qualify for Sunday's race. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
Rachel Rupert catches up with Joey Logano after he captures his first Coors Light Pole Award of 2015, only a week after securing his first DAYTONA 500 victory.
Suarez involved in wreck during second group of first round in qualifying Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Related: Full qualifying results Austin Dillon won the Coors Light Pole Award at Daytona International Speedway for the NASCAR XFINITY Series season-opening Alert Today Florida 300. The 2013 XFINITY Series champion posted a lap of 190.251 mph in the final round of the three-round group qualifying session at Daytona. Justin Marks will join Dillon on the front row. Chad Boat and Brendan Gaughan will comprise Row 2, while Aric Almirola and Erik Jones will make up Row 3. A large crash occurred in the second group of the opening round with Daniel Suarez, Tanner Berryhill, Carlos Contreras, Harrison Rhodes, Landon Cassill and Blake Koch among the cars involved in the wreck. The No. 18 car of Suarez was pretty torn up and he had to go to a backup car. Seven cars did not make the race, including Rhodes, Contreras and Berryhill. Following the crash Kyle Busch, who is teammates with Suarez told FOX Sports 1 of the group qualifying, "This is not what it needs to be. Somehow, someway, this isn't right." Busch later added, "you don't want to see cars wrecking in qualifying. The show is the race." Shortly after the crash, qualifying was putting into a holding pattern due to some rain in the area. That delayed last about 40 minutes. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was not in the actual crash but in the group where it took place, had a slower time as a result and will start 40th, the last spot in the field. He got that spot as a result of his champions provisional in the series. Something he joked about on Twitter. Guess I'm gonna use that champions provisional today. #ThingsYouSayAt40 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) February 21, 2015 The group qualifying procedure for Daytona, adjusted by NASCAR on Wednesday, saw the first round consist of four groups with each group alloted two minutes and 30 seconds to complete a lap. Once a vehicle started rolling off pit road, it couldn't stop and had to proceed to the track. The fastest 24 advanced to the second round with consisted of two groups, which the same time frame as the first round. The top 12 moved on to the third and final round. This same format was used in Friday's Keystone Light Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250. The Alert Today Florida 300 will be Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Miss Coors Light catches up with Jeff Gordon after he secured the Coors Light Pole Award for the second time in the DAYTONA 500.
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JGR driver will lead field to green in Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) MORE: Full race lineup AVONDALE, Ariz.— Needing an 11th-place finish or better in Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 to secure one of four positions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' title race, Denny Hamlin took a giant step toward that goal with a pole-winning effort on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway . Hamlin covered the one-mile distance in 25.332 seconds (142.113 mph) to win his third Coors Light pole award of the season, his second at Phoenix and the 20th of his career. The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota edged fellow Chase driver Brad Keselowski (142.079 mph) by .006 seconds for the top starting spot in the final race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Eliminator Round (on ESPN at 3 p.m. ET). With Kevin Harvick third at 141.995 mph, Joey Logano fourth and Matt Kenseth fifth (both at 141.794 mph) and Jeff Gordon sixth at 141.665 mph, Chase drivers claimed six of the top seven spots on the grid. The only interloper was Kyle Busch , who will start sixth after posting a lap at 141.771 mph. With one of the best pit crews in the Sprint Cup garage, Hamlin will choose pit stall No. 1, closest to the exit from pit road and a considerable advantage at Phoenix. But even with the top starting spot and the best pit box, Hamlin doesn't think he'll be able to coast to the final race. "I think the competition is just too close and tight to think that you're just going to coast to an 11th-place finish," Hamlin said. "Nowadays, the difference between 11th and third and 20th is not that much, so you've got to go all-out on every single lap and fight for every position on restarts. "So, really, from my standpoint, there is no backing into this thing and coasting our way to Homestead. We have to go out there and perform at a high level, or else we're not going to make it. There are too many cars that are too good for us to think that we're just going to ride around and take our spot." Harvick, who was fastest in Friday's opening practice, said he didn't "connect the dots" in either round of knockout qualifying. Nevertheless, the consensus in the garage is that Harvick, who has won three of the last four Phoenix races, has the fastest car in race trim. "I just didn't hit everything on both laps," Harvick said. "I got up the race track a little bit the first lap in Turn 1, and on the second lap, I got up the track at Turns 3 and 4. So I just missed it by a little bit, but our Budweiser Chevrolet is really good in race trim and (I'm) really looking forward to the race. "We have to keep tweaking on it tomorrow and know we qualified 13th here the first time and drove to the lead. We have to keep doing what we're doing, and we'll be fine." Keselowski and Harvick, who are seventh and eighth in the Chase standings know that a victory at Phoenix is their surest path to the season finale. Keselowski, who had to win at Talladega to advance to the Eliminator Round, spelled it out. "Technically, I don't have to win this race, but the probabilities are that I do," he explained. "I think it will be very hard to pass three cars in points. I think I'm within five on all three, but that means if you didn't win, you'd have to beat at least three cars by five spots on the track—and these are good guys. These are good drivers and good teams. "There's a reason why they're this far in the Chase, and to beat all three of those by five spots, that's a tough task for anyone to really feel good about. But you know if you win, you're in, and that's the great thing about this system and we have a great shot at it, for sure." Chase driver Carl Edwards was 25th fastest in opening practice but improved to 13th in time trials. "I hate to admit it, but I'm very happy with 13th," Edwards said. "We were about a 25th-place car in practice, and I was nervous about this and it went well, so that's good. I'm telling you, we're within striking distance. "We're better than we qualified in the spring, and now we work on race trim. We're always better in the race here than we are in qualifying, so we'll just go focus on it and keep digging." Ryan Newman, who needs a ninth-place finish to advance to Homestead with title eligibility, qualified 20th, deepest in the field of the Chase drivers. Clay Rogers failed to make the 43-car field. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
SHR driver earns seventh pole of the 2014 season MORE: Full starting lineup " Complete standings entering Dover RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DOVER, Del. -- Kevin Harvick is starting from the optimum position after winning the Coors Light Pole for Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). The question is whether the driver known as "The Closer" can finally close the deal from the front row. Harvick covered the one-mile distance in 22.095 seconds (162.933 mph) to edge Kyle Busch (162.404 mph) for the top spot on the grid. Denny Hamlin (162.250 mph) qualified third, followed by series leader Brad Keselowski (162.140 mph), Jamie McMurray (161.936 mph) and Jeff Gordon (161.573 mph). Entering the first elimination race in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Harvick is in little danger of missing the cut, having finished fifth and third in the first two Chase events. But the Coors Light pole award at the Monster Mile is Harvick's seventh of the season, and only once this year, at Darlington in April, has he won a race from the top starting spot. The five-month absence from Victory Lane, however, isn't weighing on Harvick. "Not at all," said Harvick, who won his first pole at Dover and the 13th of his career. "I've been around this deal way too long to complain about top-five finishes. There are a lot of circumstances that go into winning a race at a lot of these places, and you just have to keep knocking on that door. "And then you'll win some that you shouldn't win, and a lot of times you don't win the ones that you think you should have won, and you win the ones that you don't think you should have won. So you just keep finishing in the top five or top three, and everything else will fall into place." Busch is solidly inside the Chase bubble, but Hamlin is 13th after last week's star-crossed 37th-place run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and in danger of elimination coming to a track where he expects to excel. "I expected to come here and contend for a pole and, really, contend for a win this weekend," Hamlin said. "No matter what happened last weekend, it didn't affect my mind-set as far as what my expectations were when I got to this race track. "There's a little bit more pressure to perform this weekend, so we hope things fall our way." A little more pressure? How about a lot? "This will be the hardest race that I'll definitely ever drive -- 400 miles," Hamlin acknowledged. "I'm just going to be as aggressive as I can, but not put myself in a bad position. This is the most important race of my career, because it's the most significant of my career at this point. "We've got to get the job done, and I'm going to do my part to make sure we're successful." Other Chase drivers on the outside of the bubble qualified as follows: Greg Biffle , 27th; Kurt Busch , 22nd; and Aric Almirola , 21st. Besides Harvick, Busch, Hamlin, Keselowski and Gordon, the remaining top-12 Chase drivers will start from the following positions: Jimmie Johnson , eighth; Kasey Kahne , 12th; Matt Kenseth , 14th; Joey Logano , 16th; Carl Edwards , 18th; Ryan Newman , 20th; and AJ Allmendinger , 28th. Following Sunday's race, 12 Chase drivers will advance for the first time to the Contender Round of NASCAR's revamped 10-race playoffs. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView Where the Chase drivers will start Driver Starting spot Brad Keselowski 4 Joey Logano 16 Kevin Harvick 1 Jimmie Johnson 8 Kyle Busch 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 25 Jeff Gordon 6 Matt Kenseth 14 Carl Edwards 18 AJ Allmendinger 28 Kasey Kahne 12 Ryan Newman 20 Denny Hamlin 3 Greg Biffle 27 Kurt Busch 22 Aric Almirola 21
Harvick qualifies the best of the Championship 4 drivers MORE: Full EcoBoost 400 lineup " Hendrick Motorsports 200 poles by driver, track HOMESTEAD, Fla.— Jeff Gordon edged Kurt Busch for the top starting spot in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on ESPN), as three of the four contenders in the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualified in the top nine during Friday's time trials. In the third and final round of the knockout qualifying session, Gordon covered the 1.5-mile distance in 29.876 seconds (180.747 mph), narrowly beating Busch (29.895 seconds/180.632 mph) for the top spot on the grid. Championship favorite Kevin Harvick (179.946 mph) will start fifth, with fellow contenders Denny Hamlin (179.348 mph) and Joey Logano (179.259 mph) eighth and ninth, respectively. Ryan Newman (178.241 mph), the fourth driver eligible for the championship, failed to advance to the final round and will start 21st. Matt Kenseth (180.294 mph) and Brad Keselowski (179.994 mph), both eliminated from the Chase last Sunday at Phoenix, qualified third and fourth, respectively, for the race. In the 25-minute first qualifying round, Keselowski set a track record at 181.238 mph (29.795 mph), breaking the mark of 181.111 mph established by Jamie McMurray in 2003. No driver has won a Sprint Cup race at Homestead from the pole since Busch accomplished the feat in 2002. Gordon, eliminated from the Chase by one point last Sunday, moved toward the top of the track for his Coors Light Pole Award-winning run. "The bottom just wasn't the perfect place for us to run," Gordon explained. "I could feel the tires going away, and then we needed to move up. So when we saw some of those guys running fast laps a little bit higher up, I was looking forward to making that last lap. "The guys made some great adjustments. We unfortunately had a tire going down on the left front, so I don't know if that helped us or hurt us, but it was pretty nice to get that pole. That's awesome." Gordon's Coors Light Pole Award—his first at Homestead, his third of the season and the 77th of his career—also was the 200th for Hendrick Motorsports . "To be the 200th pole for Hendrick Motorsports is really cool," Gordon said. "I think the way we're looking at this weekend is we want to close out the season the absolute best we can. It's been a tremendous season. The No. 24 team has been incredible this year. "We're disappointed that we aren't in this thing for the championship, but that's not going to stop us from trying to go out to win the pole and win the race." For Harvick, the most gratifying thing about Friday's qualifying session was beating the three other championship contenders—not to mention earning a top-five starting position. "This is going to be a race that you are going to go through some changing conditions," Harvick said. "Today was really about trying to get a solid starting spot. And we were able to do that. "Just really proud of my guys. We had a really good day today. Just got to keep doing what we have to do and see where it all falls on Sunday." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Chase standings leader wins pole at New Hampshire RELATED: Qualifying results LOUDON, N.H. -- You couldn't script a better beginning to Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for Brad Keselowski , who showed no sign of stopping his relentless run toward a second championship on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Fresh from a dramatic victory in last Sunday's first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway , Keselowski blew away the track record in winning the pole for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at the Magic Mile (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). The Coors Light Pole Award was Keselowski's fifth of the season, the eight of his career and his third in 11 starts at the 1.058-mile flat track. In the second and final round of knockout qualifying, Keselowski covered the distance in 27.090 seconds (140.598 mph) to edge Jamie McMurray (140.437 mph) for the top starting spot by .031 seconds. Kevin Harvick qualified third for the second Chase race at 140.065 mph. "The kind of track is kind of right in my wheelhouse, right in our team’s wheelhouse," said Keselowski, who won the July race at New Hampshire in dominating fashion. "We had this race circled before the Chase started, and we felt decent about Chicago, but we really felt like this was a race of emphasis for us to get a win and get out of the first bracket (three-race elimination round). "It's good, right? We just want to keep it going." Despite the excellent performances of the first two weeks, Keselowski isn't ready to claim ownership of the title just yet. "With the resets (after each round), the success of today really means nothing come Homestead (where the four remaining eligible drivers will race for the title, with the highest finisher among the four claiming the prize)," Keselowski said. "It's great. It's positive momentum. It's everything you want to do, and it’s everything you think you should do. "But when it resets, it resets, and nothing that you've done in the past really matters, as long as you're eligible for the bracket. I'm a long, long way from using the word favorite or feeling overly confident." McMurray, who did not make the Chase field, was pleased with his effort in qualifying. "I felt like, in my first run, I didn't get everything out of the car and maybe left a little bit on the table," McMurray said. "The first run I didn't think I got it all, but the second run out (in the final round), the second lap was really good. "Honestly, I came off Turn 4 and tried to run three laps and tried to just drive a little bit harder, but the tires just wouldn’t hold up for another quick lap." Chase drivers who will start in the top 12 on Sunday include Denny Hamlin (fourth), Kyle Busch (fifth), Jimmie Johnson (sixth), Joey Logano (seventh), Carl Edwards (eighth), Ryan Newman (ninth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (11th) Keselowski led the first of the two qualifying sessions with a lap at 139.614 mph (27.281 seconds), a scant .005 seconds faster than the No. 99 of fellow Ford driver Edwards. All told, 26 drivers in the 30-minute first round broke the track qualifying record of 138.130 mph (27.574 seconds) set by Kyle Busch on July 11, 2014. Earnhardt Jr. was the 12th and last driver to advance to the second session with a lap at 138.987 mph (27.404 mph). Chase drivers Jeff Gordon (13th), Kurt Busch (15th), Matt Kenseth (16th), Kasey Kahne (17th), Aric Almirola (21st), Greg Biffle (26th) and AJ Allmendinger (27th) failed to advance to the 10-minute final round. Notes: The track qualifying record was the 19th set this year in Sprint Cup Series time trials, in the first year of the knockout format. ... Keselowski has accounted for four of those records. ... The last two times Keselowski has won a pole for a Sprint Cup race (at Kentucky and Richmond), he has also won the race. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation