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Despite falling short, Elliott runs masterful race
RELATED: Race results " Elliott joins elite list with back-to-back poles MORE: Elliott through the years DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Chase Elliott led the Daytona 500 field to the green flag Sunday, a repeat pole-starter in NASCAR's crown-jewel race. Similarly to last year, the 2016 Sunoco Rookie of the Year victor was unable to lead the field to the checkered flag. This time, however, an empty fuel cell was the culprit. Elliott led five times for 39 laps, a total second only to early leader Kevin Harvick . But his powerful Speedweeks -- with a Coors Light Pole Award, a Can-Am Duel victory and tons of momentum -- fizzled when he sputtered off the pace just two and half laps from the finish. "Out of gas," Elliott signaled over the radio as his blue-and-yellow Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet slowed toward the inside lane on the backstretch. Elliott was able to salvage a lead-lap finish in 14th, but it was far from the ultimate prize -- a breakthrough Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory on the sport's grandest stage. Elliott emerged from his car and left the track quickly, hopping into a waiting vehicle with his father -- NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott -- driving. But he struck a regretful but pragmatic tone in a post-race tweet, saying, "Lessons learned the hard way today, let's get to Atlanta!" Before his fuel tank ran dry, Elliott had led 23 consecutive laps -- the longest sustained span up front of the entire race. But the race-long dicing had given way to a settled, single-file pack with his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, concerned about his car's mileage. Leading the way and burning up precious fuel with zero aerodynamic tow wasn't helping. "We knew we were short, but what do you do?," Gustafson told NASCAR.com. "It's hard to say hey, let's give up the Daytona 500 or follow in third or fourth. The way the shuffle ended up, Kurt was probably in the best spot because he could save a little fuel, whereas us and the 78 ( Martin Truex Jr .) and the 42 ( Kyle Larson , also in the top five) were having to run wide-open. "I think we did all we could in the circumstances. We knew we were going to be really close, just ended up short." Also working against Elliott was the 47-lap green flag stretch -- the race's longest -- that preceded the dramatic end. "We were hoping for a few cautions and I think if we were in third or fourth, we could've saved it, but I wasn't about to give up the lead of the Daytona 500 and say 'hey, we've got to fall back and save gas,' " Gustafson said. "Little bit of wishful thinking and hoping the circumstances would play our way." Elliott otherwise ran a masterful race, exhibiting patience on a day when it was in short supply for several in the field. Elliott has taken defeat hard in the past, but Gustafson said he had no concerns about Sunday's defeat rattling his 21-year-old driver. "There's nothing he can do. I'd rather lose like that than I would be sitting in the garage or running 12th or 13th or 10 or lucking into a fifth, right? I don't think that's a bad thing. You go to the race track and you fight your guts out, and you win the pole, you win a Duel and lead the Daytona 500 with two laps to go. I don't know that you should be sad about that."
Albert: Hendrick, JGR, Penske should be prime players Sunday
RELATED: Daytona schedule " Starting lineup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- There's no such thing as a clear-cut favorite for Sunday's Daytona 500. After six days of on-track activity for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , several camps can lay claim to having an edge, but singling out one driver is akin to a roulette wheel's spin. "We come down here a lot of years. You kind of pick a guy," said Jamie McMurray , the 2010 champion of the 500 who will start third in this year's running. "If he finishes, he's going to be there in the end. I think there's 10 guys that have a legitimate shot to win this year." What is clear is that Sunday's winner of the Great American Race (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will have the benefit of a fast horse, potential assistance from teammates and the combination of an adept spotter and a frequently-used mirror. And if conventional wisdom holds serve, Team Penske , Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports should be the prime players in that game. Preliminary races -- Thursday's Duel qualifiers and last weekend's "The Clash" exhibition from a busy Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway -- have shown that a strong leading car has the ability to change lanes and stem the aerodynamic momentum from an onrushing line of cars. The Duels showed the powerful but precarious nature of leading: In the first 150-miler, polesitter Chase Elliott staved off the pack with a series of blocks to lead the final 24 laps. In the nightcap, Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- who led for 53 circuits -- zigged too late when Denny Hamlin zagged with two laps left, and Hamlin led an organized aero charge to the checkers. MORE: Logano wins 'The Clash' " Duel 1 results " Duel 2 results "Because the way the lanes form, it's just power in numbers," said Elliott, the 500's Coors Light Pole Award winner for the second straight year. "It's a power in what cars are lined up in what row, how they're stacked against you, whether they're two-wide or three-wide behind you. There certainly are guys that do a good job. Once they get out front they're tough to get by. We see that all the time at these places." RELATED: Elliott joins elite in back-to-back 'Great American Race' pole wins Momentum can be an intangible in other sports, the vibe of a winning streak or the underlying oomph of the tide turning in a certain game. In NASCAR -- and especially in the restrictor-plate genre of stock-car racing -- it's a palpable phenomenon. While aerodynamics can be a great equalizer for underdogs, the power of Penske's pair of Fords driven by Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski stands out. But so does the muscle flexed by defending 500 champion Hamlin and his flotilla of Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. And it's unwise to count out Hendrick & Co.; which monopolized the front row in qualifying with Elliott and Earnhardt. MORE: Penske proves plate tracks take more than just luck One thing is all but certain, especially when it gets to crunch time with the Harley J. Earl Trophy on the line: The cat-and-mouse between the race leader and the pack will be more exacting, with far more take than give. "I'm sure that will be amped up Sunday," Elliott said after his Duel win. "I think it was similar to what you'll see."
Full schedule for Atlanta
RELATED: See Atlanta races live Fresh off the season-opening races at Daytona, all three NASCAR Series will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway for a tripleheader. Check out the full weekend schedule below. Note: All times are ET FRIDAY, MARCH 3: ON TRACK -- 10-10:55 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 11-11:55 a.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- noon-1:25 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 1:30-2:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 2:30-3:25 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 3:30-4:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 4:30-5:25 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 5:45 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) SATURDAY, MARCH 4: ON TRACK -- 9:15 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 10:40 a.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- noon-1:20 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 2 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Rinnai 250 (163 laps, 251.02 miles), FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 4:30 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Active Pest Control 200 (130 laps, 200.02 miles), FS1 ( Follow live ) SUNDAY, MARCH 5: ON TRACK -- 2:30 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (325 laps, 500.05 miles), FOX ( Follow live )
NASCAR TV schedule: Feb. 27-March 5
Kurt Busch flies to Coors Light Pole in Vegas
RELATED: See the full field " Starting lineup Hometown favorite Kurt Busch roared to the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Busch pushed the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet to a fast lap of 196.328 mph, snagging the first starting spot for Sunday's Kobalt 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The pole position was Busch's second of the season, second at the 1.5-mile Sin City track and 21st of his Sprint Cup career. "Man, I wasn't going to lift for anything," Busch said. "I was giving it all I had. I'm really proud of the team to help me get to that third round. I was overdriving the car and I needed to settle in and (crew chief) Tony Gibson made a great adjustment in that last round. I was hoping to put on a show for the home crowd, get the pole, but now we've got to go to work tomorrow. I hope we can get the car dialed in for long run speed for Sunday." Joey Logano qualified for the second starting spot with a best lap of 195.851 mph in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. Matt Kenseth qualified third in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. Brad Keselowski , Logano's Penske teammate, secured the fourth starting spot with Austin Dillon completing the top five in the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet. Kevin Harvick , the defending race winner, was sixth-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevy. Four-time Vegas winner Jimmie Johnson , who prevailed last week at Atlanta, landed the 11th starting spot in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet. Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin , driving a backup Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 after a crash in Thursday testing, qualified ninth. Carl Edwards failed to advance out of the second of three rounds of elimination-style qualifying after hitting the wall in Turn 2. His Joe Gibbs Racing crew unloaded a reserve car to prepare for Sunday's 400-miler, the third premier-series race of the season. "It hit hard , bounced up the race track and man, that was it," Edwards said after emerging unhurt. RELATED: Edwards to backup car after qualifying wreck The crash was to Brian Vickers ' detriment. The fill-in driver for the injured Tony Stewart in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevy had a fast lap scrubbed off when the red flag flew for Edwards' incident early in the 10-minute segment. Stewart, back at the track for the second straight week as he recovers from a broken vertebra, was seen with crew chief Mike Bugarewicz arguing the team's case to NASCAR officials on pit road. The opening 20-minute qualifying session was also marked by a pair of incidents. Jamie McMurray tagged the outside wall at Turn 4's exit with his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet. And Keselowski's crew was forced to change a tire on the Team Penske No. 2 Ford after a piece of stray metal caused a flat. The team was allowed to make the adjustment between rounds without penalty. Busch, a Las Vegas native, also earned the designation of fastest qualifier with a best lap of 196.378 mph in the opening session, a shade better than his pole-winning lap. Busch's speed eclipsed the former track record of 194.678 mph set by Jeff Gordon at the 1.5-mile venue last March.
Kyle Busch wins Coors Light Pole Award at Phoenix
RELATED: Complete lineup " See every paint scheme for Sunday AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Running the fastest lap of the day when it counted most, Kyle Busch paced a Joe Gibbs Racing sweep of the top three starting spots for Sunday's Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Busch covered the one-mile distance in 26.014 seconds (138.387 mph) in Friday's final round of knockout qualifying, a session interrupted by Jimmie Johnson's hard wreck against the Turn 2 wall. The Coors Light Pole Award was Busch's first of the season (after an inspection failure cost him the top starting spot at Atlanta), his third at Phoenix and the 18th of his career. "It was a good day," Busch said. "Unloading off the truck, everything seemed to go real well. I wasn't sure about our speed in race trim, but then hopped over to qualifying trim and, for as not as good of a feel that the car had, we had some good speed, so that was definitely a plus -- being able to have some good laps there and being able to run a really good lap there in the last session." Carl Edwards (137.515 mph) was second fastest in the final round, followed by JGR teammate Denny Hamlin (137.426 mph). Kurt Busch (137.394 mph), trying for his third straight pole, will start fourth in Sunday's race. Johnson earned the fifth position on the grid with his first lap in the final round, but the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion went to a backup car after his wreck and will drop to the rear of the field for the start of the race. Johnson initially said said he wasn’t sure what made his car drive straight into the Turn 2 wall, although he later confirmed his steering wheel came off. "Certainly, a lot of 'straight' in an area of the track that I didn't need to have straight," he said. "So, we'll have to get to the bottom of it and see what went on. But, just a really hard impact to the outside wall. "I'm thankful that we have SAFER barriers and soft walls. I'm very disappointed, because we had a very fast race car, and the guys have been working so hard to get this thing tuned-up. Thankfully, we have tomorrow to work on the back-up car and try to get it up to speed and get it going, but this is certainly not what we wanted right now." Johnson's crash wasn't the only calamity in what was a bizarre qualifying session for Hendrick Motorsports. Kasey Kahne's engine caught fire after the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet posted the third fastest lap in the opening round. Forced to change engines after smoke spewed from the air cleaner for several minutes. Kahne will join Johnson at the rear of the field for the start of Sunday’s race. The team surmised later that the engine went into EFI (electronic fuel injection) protection mode and blew up. Kahne was mystified by the problem but said the engine had continued to run after he attempted to shut it off. Kevin Harvick, who has won three of the last four NASCAR Sprint Cup races at PIR, will have to charge from mid-pack after qualifying 18th on Friday. "We’ve just been off in qualifying every week so far," Harvick said. "Just not hitting the balance from practice to qualifying."
Logano leaps to Coors Light Pole Award at Michigan
RELATED: Qualifying results " See every car, team rosters BROOKLYN, Mich. – If Joey Logano was looking for a good omen for Sunday, he found it on Friday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway . Touring the two-mile track in 35.697 seconds (201.698 mph) during the final round of knockout qualifying for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Logano edged Jimmie Johnson (201.523 mph) for the top starting spot by .031 seconds. The Coors Light Pole Award was Logano's third at MIS. On the previous two occasions the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford started first on the grid—in August 2013 and June 2016—he won the subsequent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Should Logano win form the pole on Sunday, he would be the third driver to win three or more Michigan races from the top starting spot, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson and Bill Elliott . "Any time you put your name with a Hall of Famer of any sort, it would be really special for me," said Logano, who has collected three poles this season and 16 in his career. "That's crazy—that's a really, really neat stat. "We've got to do it though. But, obviously, starting up front here is an advantage, for sure. We talk about track position. We talk about safety on restart, being how crazy it is with the low-downforce package. And the first pit stall—probably the most important thing of all is keeping the track position through the race." And, of course, when Logano is fast in qualifying trim at MIS, he usually races well, too. "I'm excited about it," he said. "I thought our car was really fast in race trim earlier (in practice). ... I didn't think we were going to make it happen today (in qualifying), but (crew chief) Todd (Gordon) made some good adjustments, and he gave me a little pep talk, and I was ready to go. I was going to drive the heck out of that thing." Denny Hamlin (201.406 mph) qualified third, followed by Kevin Harvick (201.382 mph) and Chase Elliott (201.303 mph). Johnson's second-place start led a resurgence by Hendrick Motorsports , which placed all four cars in the top 12 during qualifying for only the second time this season, the first coming in May at Talladega, a restrictor-plate track. "It was just an awesome day for this Lowe's race car and this Lowe's race team," Johnson said. "We keep stacking pennies and making this car better and better. "My hat's off to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and all the hard work they're putting into things. Great practice and great qualifying. We need some more practice sessions (Saturday) and roll them into a good race." Johnson participated in a NASCAR organization test (one car per team) on Tuesday at Chicagoland Speedway and found the session helpful in finding speed. Indeed, the Hendrick cars more than held their own against the four entries from Joe Gibbs Racing , which have been the dominant force in Cup qualifying this season. Hamlin and Carl Edwards (ninth), were the only two JGR drivers to make the top 12, with Matt Kenseth qualifying 13th and Kyle Busch 16th. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Hamlin holds on for Coors Light Pole at Richmond
RELATED: Starting lineup " See every car in the field RICHMOND, Va. – Don't tell Denny Hamlin his first pole of the season isn't significant. In the money round of Friday's knockout qualifying session, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota toured .75-mile Richmond International Raceway in 22.069 seconds (122.344 mph) to earn the top starting spot for Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the final race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season. "I thought for sure we had too many laps on our tires," said Hamlin, who qualified in the top 10 for the 24th consecutive race. "A lot of the guys that we were challenging only had one lap per session, but my car didn't really come in that quick, so I had to run multiple laps. "And on a short track that wears out tires, I thought we were at a huge disadvantage. Just proud of the effort. ... And, obviously, running that fast for that many laps tells us we have a really good car for the long runs. So pretty optimistic, and we'll see if we can't get a win." Though Hamlin edged Kyle Larson by .010 seconds to earn his first Coors Light Pole Award of 2016, his third at Richmond and the 24th of his career, the real drama of Friday afternoon involved drivers who qualified deeper in the field—in some cases, much deeper. Pocono winner Chris Buescher , who is fighting to stay in the top 30 in the standings and thereby earn a Chase spot, qualified a disappointing 31st. Adding to the stress of the driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford was the qualifying performance of David Ragan , who is 31st in points and immediately behind Buescher. Ragan was 19th fastest in the first round of knockout qualifying, 12 positions better than Buescher. The problem? Buescher is just 11 points ahead of Ragan entering Saturday’s race, with each position worth one point. Ragan slipped to 21st in the second round and failed to advance, meaning he'll start the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota 10 spots on the grid ahead of Buescher—too far for the rookie driver to enjoy a comfortable night's sleep. Buescher also can stay in the top 30 if he finishes 10 spots ahead of Landon Cassill , his teammate. "That's not where we wanted to be in qualifying with our CSX Ford Fusion," Buescher said. "We were a little better than we were last time here, so there is a little bit of positive to it, believe it or not. We'll be able to work our way up. "At the end of the day, this weekend is about something bigger. We're trying to stay out of trouble and be there at the end. It won't be an easy walk from where we are at right now, but we'll be able to work our way up." RELATED: How bubble drivers fare at Richmond Jamie McMurray (122.189 mph) took control of another important head-to-head matchup, making the final round of qualifying and earning the fourth starting spot. The last driver currently in a Chase-eligible position on points, McMurray enters Saturday’s race with a 22-point advantage over Ryan Newman , whose effort stalled in the second round. Hit with a 15-point penalty on Wednesday after his No. 31 Chevrolet failed the laser inspection station after Sunday's race at Darlington, Newman will start 15th, likely needing a victory to advance to the Chase. "Well, it's a really big weekend for us, but more than that, I'm just thrilled how both of our cars are running," said McMurray, Larson's teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing . "We've just made such big improvements. "We ran good at a two-mile track at Michigan. We ran good at Darlington with a different rules package, and we've run good at a short track. As an organization, it's been really good, and the next 10 races, if we can get in, it's going to be pretty awesome, because our cars have peaked at the right time." Austin Dillon , who starts on Saturday nine points ahead of McMurray, took a significant step toward his first-ever Chase spot with an eighth-place qualifying effort at 121.638 mph. At the other end of the spectrum, another driver likely to experience a sleepless night is Chase Elliott , who qualified 34th in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Elliott starts the night eight points ahead of Dillon and 17 ahead of McMurray. All three drivers share one hope, however—that there's not a new 2016 winner currently outside the Chase grid to reduce the number of Chase spots available on points from three to two (assuming Buescher remains in the top 30). RELATED: Elliott positive despite career-worst starting spot "We're just not going fast enough, for sure," Elliott said after failing to reach the second round. "I really don't know what our problem is, but we struggled in our mock runs earlier today, too. So, we just need to think about it, I guess, and try to go to work tonight. "We're giving it our best effort. It just hasn't been where we need to be. The bad news is that it's a terrible starting spot; but the good news is that it's a long race tomorrow night. We have some teammates that are fast, so hopefully we can lean on them and try to get our Chevrolet a little better." Matt Kenseth , Hamlin's teammate, qualified third. Kurt Busch , who paced the first two rounds, slipped to fifth in the session that decided the starting order of the top 12. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Biffle earns first Coors Light Pole Award of '16 at Daytona
RELATED: Starting lineup " See all 40 cars DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Greg Biffle came out of nowhere. Winless since 2013 and without a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole since the fall Charlotte race in 2012, the driver of the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford scorched Daytona International Speedway on Friday to claim the top starting spot for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 (at 7:45 p.m. ET on NBC). In the second and final round of knockout qualifying, Biffle toured the 2.5-mile restrictor-plate track in 46.643 seconds (192.955 mph) to wrestle the Coors Light Pole Award from former RFR teammate Carl Edwards (192.748 mph) by .050 seconds. The pole was Biffle’s second at a plate track, the first coming when he led the field to green in the 2004 Daytona 500 , not quite eight months after Biffle won the only plate race of his career -- the 2003 Coke Zero 400 . Both were career-firsts for the Biff. All told, Biffle has won 13 poles in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but Friday’s was particularly significant because of the boost it give his organization, which has been struggling for the past few years to find speed in the wake of the departure of veterans Matt Kenseth and Edwards to Joe Gibbs Racing . "It is a huge confidence-builder, and coming out of here with a good finish, that’s a lot of momentum for the team," Biffle said. "Qualifying on the pole, getting a good run and moving on to the next race -- we need that. "We need those good finishes and momentum and encouragement. Winning the pole is all smiles on those guys pushing the car up there and getting the pictures. They’re pumped right now. We’ll be ready to go tomorrow night." In a backup car with no practice laps because of a wreck in Saturday morning’s practice, Kyle Busch (192.336 mph) qualified third. Biffle’s teammate, Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (192.320 mph), earned the fourth starting spot, followed by Brad Keselowski (192.254 mph) and Austin Dillon (192.254 mph), who lost the fifth spot to Keselowski on an owner points tiebreaker. Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . failed to make the top 12 and will start 16th. Jimmie Johnson (eighth) was the only Hendrick Motorsports driver to advance to the second round, just as Kurt Busch (10th) was the only Stewart-Haas Racing entry to do so. Earnhardt, however, wasn’t particularly concerned about his starting position. "I think we’ll be good," he said. "We worked on our car to try and help it drive better. That might take some straight-line speed out of it, but it’s going to hopefully help us be able to make moves we need to make in the race. "It's going to be slick in the race, and handling is going to be real important. I'm more concerned really with the car driving good. Might not be the fastest car out there, (but) that's not the car that is going to win the race. I think (that’s going to be) the guy that's got the best handling package. This place is going to be pretty slick." Biffle was fastest in both rounds of qualifying, pacing the first session at 192.629 mph. "After that first session, I knew we had to be worried about (Greg)," Edwards said. "We ran a really good lap in the second session, but those guys were fast. They put the hard work in, they deserve it and I know how hard those guys work over there. "And I guess in a way, it’s cool to see them have success. You hate to get beat by anyone, but knowing those guys and knowing how much they work, it’s good to see them have this day."
Truex Jr. earns Coors Light Pole for Coca-Cola 600
RELATED: Lineup " See each car in Sunday's race CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr . crashed a Ford party on Thursday night, winning the pole for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio). With his team making adjustments to the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota throughout the qualifying session, Truex saved his best lap for the round that counted, covering the 1.5-mile distance in 28.077 seconds (192.328 mph) to edge Team Penske Ford driver Joey Logano (192.007 mph) by .047 seconds for the top starting spot in NASCAR's longest race. The Coors Light Pole Award was Truex's second of the season and the ninth of his career. Both of the New Jersey driver's poles this year have come on 1.5-mile tracks, the previous one at Kansas Speedway earlier this month. "We really had to work pretty hard for it today," said Truex, whose lap in the final round of qualifying was .27 seconds faster than his fastest practice lap. "It was just one of those Charlotte deals where the track was continuously changing. "We were just chasing the race track and changing the car and really never got it close to right until that last run. I'm really just proud of the effort and proud of all my guys for that. It feels good – 600 miles, that first pit stall (the pole winner's prerogative) … We're going to be on pit road a lot on Sunday night, and that's certainly going to be an advantage. "Hopefully, we can take advantage of it and make it work for us." Logano led both the first and second rounds but couldn’t match Truex’s top speed in the third and final session. "I got a little bit tight landing in (Turn) 1 and then a little bit free off (the corner)," Logano said. "It wasn't much. And then (Turns) 3 and 4, I actually thought was a pretty good corner. "So I would say most of it was down in 1 and 2 – probably at landing and through the center is where I lost most of my momentum. It's not much. Half-a-tenth of a second doesn't take long." Logano was the best of the Ford drivers, who held three of the four top spots in the first round of knockout qualifying and swept the top four in the second. In the final round, Fords were second, third and fifth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr . qualified third at 191.428 mph, followed by Denny Hamlin (191.388 mph) and Brad Keselowski (190.968 mph). Joining Stenhouse in the top 10 were his Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle (sixth) and Trevor Bayne (10th), marking the first time since the April race at Texas in 2014 that three RFR cars have made the final round of knockout qualifying. Dale Earnhardt Jr . will start 25th after failing to advance past the first round by .014 seconds. Matt Kenseth (27th), Austin Dillon (28th) and Kasey Kahne (29th) also will have to come from deep in the field after disappointing efforts in time trials. Kurt Busch , who topped the speed chart in opening practice with the fastest lap of the day (192.843 mph), will start 13th after failing to make the final round by .08 seconds.