By Larry Lage
AP Sports Writer
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Joey Logano improved his chances of racing to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the year, posting a lap of 199.557 mph Friday to win the pole at Michigan International Speedway.
Logano said the cars are “out of control,” on the two-mile oval.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he insisted. “You’re booking down to the corners at 200 and something.”
Logano, who won 11 times the previous two years, will start first for the second time this year and the 16th in his career.
“Track position always plays when you’re making decisions,” he said.
Martin Truex Jr. will start second, his ninth start among the top 10 this season. Tony Stewart, who plans to retire at the end of the season, will start third in the 40-car race in his best qualifying performance of the year.
A new aerodynamic package along with wide and slick 2-mile oval, which had drivers going “sideways,” according to Truex, should set up for quite a race.
“Sunday is going to be a blast,” Truex said. “With that sun being on the racetrack all day, it’s going to be slick and fun.”
Truex was among 26 drivers who failed their initial NASCAR pre-qualifying inspection due to not meeting the new aerodynamic guidelines that are debuting this week. His qualifying run almost did not happen because his car failed NASCAR pre-qualifying inspection twice due to not meeting the new aero guidelines. His crew was able to get the car approved just as the qualifying was starting.
Logano was the second in qualifying the last two weeks at Charlotte and Pocono.
“The latest couple of ones have stung a lot,” he acknowledged. “We’ve won the first two rounds and come in second in the last one. So we figured it out. We won the same amount of rounds, but the right one. This is the one that counts.”
STREAKING: Denny Hamlin will begin fourth, keeping his streak of being the only driver to start in the top 12 in every race this season.
ROUGH ROAD: NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick was among the drivers who failed to advance out of the first round of qualifying. He was only able to complete three qualifying laps in the final four minutes of the session due to early caution flags for debris on the track and David Ragan hitting the wall on Turn 3. He will start from the 29th position, equaling his worst qualifying spot this season.
“Well, there was not a lot of common sense on when to throw the cautions out there on the race track,” Harvick said. “There was debris up out of the groove and you could hold the cars at the end of pit road.”
RACE AGAINST RACISM: A campaign to promote diversity, inclusion and equality within and outside of sports was unveiled Friday by NASCAR. The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality will include a public service announcement during Sunday’s NASCAR race featuring Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr.