Newman to start alongside Logano on the front row RELATED: See the full 43-car field " Full race starting lineup MARTINSVILLE, Va.—For last year's spring race at Martinsville Speedway , Joey Logano set a track record during qualifying but didn't win the pole. On Friday at the paper-clip-shaped track, Logano reversed the outcome. Though he failed to match his record of 100.201 mph, he saved his best lap for the final round of knockout qualifying in claiming the top starting spot for Sunday's STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). Trailing Logano in the 27th starting position will be Chase Elliott , the heir apparent to Jeff Gordon 's No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, who qualified for his first Cup race, one of five starts he plans to make this year. Logano covered the .526-mile distance in 19.232 seconds (98.461 mph) to win the 10th Coors Light Pole Award of his career, his second of the season and his first at Martinsville. Logano's Team Penske Ford edged the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman (98.328 mph) for the right to lead the field to the green flag in the sixth Sprint Cup race of the year. Martin Truex Jr ., who has a string of five straight top 10s to start the season, qualified third at 98.048 mph, followed by Gordon (97.613 mph) and Jimmie Johnson (97.583 mph). Logano went out late in the second round and put just two laps on his tires in posting the eighth fastest time and advancing to the final round. Keeping laps off his tires was the factor Logano thought was decisive in winning the pole. "I'm pretty sure we ran less laps than anybody going into the third round," said Logano, who ran five laps combined in the first two rounds, a number matched by Gordon. "That was the advantage that we had going for us, that we were able to see how many cars had run and know what we had to run to get into the next round. "So in the second round, all we had to make was two laps, and we felt pretty confident about where we were. Keeping those laps off the tires was good." As well as Logano has run in Martinsville time trials in the past, he was elated to add a pole to his list of accomplishments. "It feels great to finally get the pole here. We've been close so many times," he said. "Throughout my career, I feel like we've always qualified well here but I've never been able to get a pole. I caught pretty much of a hard time about getting the track record here but not getting the pole here, so to have a pole to back it up feels great." If Logano was delighted, Elliott was relieved that he had made the field—and that rain that had been forecast for the area failed to materialize in the afternoon. "That was goal number one, to get in," Elliott said. "So it's definitely a big relief for us. We're excited. It's weird being excited about qualifying, wherever we qualified, 27th, but we're in the show, our first Sprint Cup Series race with (sponsor) NAPA on board. We're excited for Sunday." Brendan Gaughan and Ron Hornaday Jr . failed to make the 43-car field. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
Catch up quickly before Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live What: 66th annual STP 500 Where: Martinsville Speedway , Martinsville, Virginia When: Sunday, March 29, 2015 TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, Motor Racing Network Time: 1:13 p.m. ET Distance: 500 laps (263 miles) Pit Road Speed: 30 mph Caution Car Speed: 35 mph Estimated Pit Window: 125-135 laps, based on fuel mileage On The Front Row " Full starting lineup " See all 43 cars 1. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (98.461 mph) 2. Ryan Newman , Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet (98.328 mph) To The Rear Casey Mears , Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet (transmission); Regan Smith , Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet (driver change, subbing for Kyle Larson ); Justin Allgaier , HScott Motorsports No. 51 Chevrolet (backup) Failed To Qualify Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet; Ron Hornaday Jr ., TMG No. 30 Chevrolet. Fastest In Practice First practice: Ryan Newman , Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet (97.835 mph) " Full results Second practice: Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (97.113 mph) " Full results Final Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (97.098 mph) " Full results It's Not Where You Start After qualifying first or second in two of the last three races, defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick will roll off from the No. 17 position at Martinsville. He's qualified worse this season, starting 18th at Las Vegas. For the record, he won Las Vegas. Remember When? A Ford team has not finished first or second at Martinsville since 2002, going 0-for 24 since Kurt Busch won the fall race here while driving for Roush Fenway Racing . Chevrolet teams have won the last eight races at the 0.526-mile track. Hey Buddy, Move It "There is a lot of blocking that goes on (at Martinsville) and nobody wants go give up the inside, but the guy behind can control that a little bit. You can just get to their bumper and move them. … The guy that chops your nose off a lot going into say, Turn 3, you are just going to move him. … It is frustrating at times, but you definitely want to be on the offensive here rather than the defensive." – Paul Menard , RCR No. 27 Chevrolet He Can See The Front Tony Stewart will start sixth at Martinsville, his best starting spot since the fall race at Texas last year. He's also coming off his best finish of the season, a 14th-place result last week at Auto Club Speedway . The three-time Martinsville winner says earning a good starting spot "is half the battle" on the tiny track. "If you can just get a good pit spot and … a decent starting spot to where you do not have to beat the thing to death trying to get to the front, that's half the battle," he said. Pole or Bust Pole winners have won two of the last five Martinsville races, which might be good news for No. 1 qualifier Joey Logano . But drivers starting outside the top-20 have won the last two – Kurt Busch won from 22nd last spring while Dale Earnhardt Jr . won from 23rd in the fall race. Winless and counting Yes, it's been quite a while since a Toyota team won a Sprint Cup Series points races, 31 races in fact, and while Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin says a victory at Martinsville would be a big boost, it wouldn't be a cure-all. "It's been tough and it's been a hard year for the organization and the manufacturer," he said. "Not that a win here would just satisfy all those needs -- we still know that realistically we've got a lot of work to do, but it definitely would take a lot of pressure off because right now we're all in that hornets' nest of the bubble spot if this thing comes down to points." An Off-Weekend? Let's Go Racing Chase Elliott , the defending XFINITY Series champion and the son of NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott , is making his Sprint Cup Series debut today. Elliott will start 27th in the No. 25 Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports . "You just want to put together 500 solid laps on Sunday and try to run all the laps and hope we can have a good day," Elliott, 19, said. The XFINITY Series has the weekend off, returning to action Friday, April 10 at Texas Motor Speedway . Defending STP 500 Champion Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Martinsville Speedway based on past 10 years: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (122.5) Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet (119.8) Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (110.1) Former Martinsville Speedway Winners In Field Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson 8; Denny Hamlin 4; Tony Stewart 3; Kurt Busch 2; Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman 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
Drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano both point to the continuity between themselves and their teams as a factor in the success of Team Penske
Team owner Roger Penske talks about how special it is to win his second DAYTONA 500.
Team Penske ship coasting smoothly with pair of symbiotic drivers Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Related: Keselowski announces big baby news For Team Penske , an organization that combined to rake in 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins with a two-car effort last season, the logical focus for 2015 is continuity, or -- in more plain-spoken terms -- not fixing what isn't broken. But that objective extends beyond mechanical aspects and manpower; it's also about relationships. The core of chemistry between full-time drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano remains a touchstone for Team Penske as it tries to forge another deep run in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Keselowski enters his sixth full season with team owner Roger Penske , eager to qualify for the championship round after 2014's near-miss. It's a place that Logano, set for his third year at Penske , knows well after his first experience racing for the title in the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale last season. While Penske saw the competitive nature of both drivers manifest itself in hard-nosed racing, Keselowski's six victories and Logano's five, he also saw a mutual reliance that benefited the team from within. "I would say when you look at where the sport is today and how competitive it is, when you see guys that can race side-by-side, almost like brothers, and have that success is amazing," Penske said during last week's Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "They worked off each other's notebooks, they looked at the data and quite honestly, spent time off the race track together, and I think they had high trust with each other. You saw that on the race track, and to me, that was a big piece of the success." The camaraderie between teammates, especially outside the race-track cocoon, hasn't always been a constant on Penske's driver roster. The current two-driver balance, however, seems to work -- so much so that Keselowski was hesitant to pull back the curtain with details on his bond with Logano, out of fear that the resultant competitive edge might be lost. Like any relationship, the pairing isn't always cream and sugar, Keselowski said, but any hiccups in their communication have been minimal. "Our teammate relationship has been phenomenal. Certainly, it's had some highs and lows -- sometimes one week apart -- but I couldn't be happier," Keselowski said with a laugh. "He's done a great job for the program, and he's really taken us from having one car that's performed and the second one that hasn't, to having two consistent threats at Team Penske , and that's a huge accomplishment for him and something we're glad to have." For Logano, one of the biggest perks to joining the Penske fold in 2013 has been his exposure to fresh ideas. Working with Keselowski has produced some unorthodox lines of thinking, but it's a path that's helped Logano and the rest of the team expand its minds. "Brad's helped me a lot, kind of thinking outside the box," Logano said. "He's a little bit out there and he comes up with these different ideas that are like, 'Why even think that way?' That's so different, and I love having that there at Team Penske . He's thinking of something different than I'm thinking about, and I think that's good. That pushes me to think that way. I think that's one of the biggest things I've taken from him." MORE: Keselowski unapologetic for aggressive driving style The rate at which Team Penske collected checkered flags in 2014, coupled with last year's heartache at seeing championship goals fizzle, has redoubled the teammates' appetite for more prosperity this season. But so has the knowledge that the team's makeup will largely remain unchanged over the offseason. If Team Penske can cash in on its continuity early with a season-opening victory in the Daytona 500 (Feb. 22, 1 p.m. ET, FOX), Keselowski said it could serve as a springboard to an even bigger surge. "We have a tremendous amount of anticipation," Keselowski said. "We're returning all of our key people -- in fact, we've added some more people -- to be even better, so I see our team only growing. I look at Daytona with probably the most anticipation I've ever had, coming off a win (last fall) at Talladega, a very similar track, and I know our program has only gotten better. I want to win the Daytona 500 out of the gate, and I think we have the team to do it." MORE: Season preview: Joey Logano FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Primary sponsor to continue as key partner for team Team Penske has reached a multiyear extension with Discount Tire, which will remain a primary sponsor for the team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and serve as an associate sponsor for both the Nos. 2 and 22 Ford Fusions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series . The terms of the deal were not disclosed. "We are happy to be extending our relationship with Team Penske into 2015 and beyond," said Michael Zuieback, president of Discount Tire. "They've been a loyal ambassador of the Discount Tire brand since we began our relationship with them in 2010." In 2014, Team Penske earned its second consecutive Nationwide Series Owners' Championship with Discount Tire on board. In 2013, the No. 22 team compiled 12 Nationwide Series wins with four different drivers: Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Ryan Blaney and AJ Allmendinger . In 2010, it won the Nationwide Series championship with Keselowski. "The on-track success that we have shared with Discount Tire has been remarkable over the last few years," team owner Roger Penske said. "Discount Tire has been an important part of our championship runs as a key sponsor of the No. 22 team in 2014 as well as our other title-winning seasons in 2010 and 2013." The 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series season will begin on Saturday, Feb. 21 at Daytona International Speedway . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Team Penske's history, rosters for Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano's teams
Former Sprint Cup driver: 'I need more experience in these cars'
Coming off an 11 win season in 2014, Team Penske looks to continue their success in 2015 by focusing on the team aspect rather than each individual race car.
Keselowski a better quote than broadcaster; Abreu needs to stop playing in dirt