Joey Logano tops Almirola for Martinsville pole

Joey Logano saved his tires and the reward was the pole for Sunday’s race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Joey Logano tops Almirola for Martinsville pole

Logano was only sixth-fastest in Round 2 but only ran one lap, giving him more fresh rubber in the final five-minute round than most of his competitors.

He went out late in the session, ran four laps, and picked up the pole for Sunday’s STP 500 with an average lap speed of 97.830 mph.

The pole is first of the 2019 season, 21st of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career and fifth at Martinsville, all coming in his last nine races.

“You just have to be so precise and you’re pushing yourself so hard in the corners and a mistake has such a big penalty when you get loose and then you’re right on the edge of the tires and you go over the edge a little bit,” said Logano, who won last fall’s race at Martinsville following a bump-and-run of Martin Truex Jr.

“It’s the difference between qualifying first and eighth or ninth because the field is so close. It’s awesome to get another pole and hopefully we can top it off with another win. This is a fun race. I always look forward to coming up here.”

Asked about the importance of the No. 1 pit stall selection, Logano said: “It’s so important because pit road here is so dangerous. You look at how small it is, it’s tight getting in and out.

“With everyone pulling out two or three (cars) deep, it’s nice to have nice pit stall and be able to have a safer exit.”

Aric Almirola ended up second (97.643 mph) and Brad Keselowski third (97.457 mph). Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin – who led the first two rounds – completed the top-five.

Rounding out the Top 12 starters are William Byron, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Truex, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.

Round 2

Hamlin remained fast in the second round, again topping the leaderboard with an average lap speed of 97.683 mph.

He was followed closely by Harvick (97.492 mph) and Almirola (97.462 mph). Elliott was fourth and Larson completed the top-five.

Also advancing to the final round were Logano, Keselowski, Suarez, Truex, Johnson, Byron and Bowyer.

Among those who failed to advance were Kyle Busch, who ran eight laps in the 10-minute session; Alex Bowman; Ryan Blaney; Erik Jones, who ran 10 laps in the session; Kurt Busch; and Ryan Newman.

“Just too loose. Trying to make a turn in race trim and we’re just too loose right now,” Kyle Busch said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Round 1

Hamlin led the way in the first round of knockout qualifying with an average lap speed of 97.835 mph.

He was followed closely by Keselowski (97.457 mph) and Almirola (97.457 mph). Harvick and Larson completed the top-five.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Logano, Preece, Blaney, Kurt Busch and Byron.

Most of field didn’t begin an attempt at a clean qualifying lap until halfway through the 10-minute session. Several drivers did go out to scuff their tires and immediately return.

One of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s runs was disallowed after being penalized for speeding on pit road following his qualifying lap. He did manage to get another run in but ended up only 25th fastest.

“They second time out we were just too tight,” Stenhouse said.

Among those who failed to advance were Stenhouse, Bubba Wallace, Daniel Hemric and Austin Dillon.

Corey LaJoie and Cody Ware both failed to participate in qualifying as each was involved in an accident in practice earlier Saturday and both of their teams were working on their respective backup cars.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Time Gap Mph
1 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 19.356   97.830
2 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 19.393 0.037 97.643
3 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 19.430 0.074 97.458
4 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 19.445 0.089 97.382
5 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 19.449 0.093 97.362
6 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 19.481 0.125 97.202
7 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 19.502 0.146 97.098
8 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 19.511 0.155 97.053
9 19 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 19.518 0.162 97.018
10 41 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Ford 19.556 0.200 96.830
11 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 19.581 0.225 96.706
12 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 19.608 0.252 96.573
13 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 19.571 0.215 96.755
14 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 19.579 0.223 96.716
15 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 19.583 0.227 96.696
16 47 United States Ryan Preece  Chevrolet 19.588 0.232 96.671
17 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 19.593 0.237 96.647
18 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 19.602 0.246 96.602
19 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 19.602 0.246 96.602
20 1 United States Kurt Busch  Chevrolet 19.623 0.267 96.499
21 6 United States Ryan Newman  Ford 19.626 0.270 96.484
22 95 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Toyota 19.630 0.274 96.465
23 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 19.652 0.296 96.357
24 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 19.695 0.339 96.146
25 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 19.664 0.308 96.298
26 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 19.703 0.347 96.107
27 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 19.742 0.386 95.917
28 00 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 19.785 0.429 95.709
29 8 United States Daniel Hemric  Chevrolet 19.807 0.451 95.603
30 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 19.814 0.458 95.569
31 15 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 19.846 0.490 95.415
32 36 United States Matt Tifft  Ford 19.846 0.490 95.415
33 52 United States Jeb Burton  Chevrolet 19.998 0.642 94.689
34 77 Canada D.J. Kennington  Chevrolet 20.013 0.657 94.618
35 32 United States Corey Lajoie  Ford 0.000   0.000
36 51 Cody Ware  Chevrolet 0.000   0.000
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