Logano Posts Fastest Time During Drive Sober Georgia Qualifying Day, Wins Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Pole
Just a week removed from winning the Daytona 500, Joey Logano, who ran Legends and Bandolero cars at Atlanta Motor Speedway in his formative racing years, won the pole position for Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in the Drive Sober Georgia Qualifying Day on Friday. He posted the fastest lap, clocking in at 194.683 miles per hour.
"It's been an amazing few weeks," said Logano. "Coming down here to Atlanta and starting first is special, especially for me here for at his race track. Hopefully we'll finish where we start.
"There's a lot of memories here. Anything to be in victory lane here is a very special place for me."
Logano has plenty of experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He finished second at Atlanta in 2013, but he did not always have that much success there.
"You're going so fast around here and if you hit a bump just the right way, it'll jerk you car up a lane," Logano said. "It's a fast, technical race track, which is a big challenge because I remember the first time I came here, I qualified 42nd and was completely confused on what to do."
A delay caused in inspections following the Camping World Truck Series' practice Friday evening kept 13 Sprint Cup Series drivers from qualifying.
Some big names didn't get out for the first round of Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 qualifying, including former series champions Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.
"It's a big letdown for me and for our series," Gordon said.
The 34 drivers who did make a qualifying run will be lined up accordingly for Sunday's race.
"We drew 47th, which is where you go through tech for qualifying and where you end up on pit road, so we only went through (inspection) once," said Logano. "Without that 20-minute delay, we would have been late getting on there. If we didn't make it though tech on the first round, we wouldn't have qualified.
"I think you've got to be able to have the opportunity to go through there twice. It is scary a lot of times when you roll though that laser platform. Especially looking at it now, seeing if you didn't make it through, you wouldn't have even qualified."
Kevin Harvick on the outside front row
Kevin Harvick, lasts year's Atlanta pole winner and the 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion will start outside of Joey Logano on the front row.
"This is one of those places where Lap 10 is going to be really where you see if your car is going to shine or not," Harvick said. "Lap 10 to Lap 50 is really where you're going to make your money. You've got to have that car handling well and keep the falloff as minimal as possible. I'm really happy I'm racing (Saturday in the XFINITY series) because the cars are driving very similarly.
"It's definitely a rhythm-type race track. The way you drive it is really aggressive and this place doesn't lean itself toward the tires lasting very long if you're really aggressive like we were in qualifying.
"This is one of the greatest race tracks that we race on. It produces some of the best racing, and this race track needs to say on our schedule because it's a great place to race. As a race fan, it's gotta be a fun place to watch a race. I love coming here."
Cat vs. squirrel
In last year's Atlanta race, Kevin Harvick nearly collided with what many have argued was either a cat or a squirrel. Harvick seemed to close the book on the argument.
"Let's get something straight," said Harvick, "the Atlanta Motor Speedway worker that works in Turn 3 corralled the gray cat that ran out in front of me. He was the first one to come to my garage stall and come talk to me about the cat. The gray cat lives in the shed out there, and it was a cat. That squirrel that was running around was not what ran in front of me."
Rounding it out
Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five in qualifying. Atlanta's defending champ Kasey Kahne was 10th, and David Ragan, who is subbing for the injured Kyle Busch with Joe Gibbs Racing, will share the ninth row with Danica Patrick.
"David and I grew up racing together so when I heard he was in the 18 car, I was pretty excited about it actually," Logano said. "I sent him a text congratulating him because that's an amazing opportunity. That's a second chance right there. And to see him in practice today — he was third on the board for a while — I was like, 'Wow.' He was in front of me for a little bit and I was like, 'Holy cow.'
"There's a lot of learning curve ahead of him with a new team, but it was cool to see him up there and running fast in that car. I'm rooting him on. I mean, I don't want him to beat me, but I'm rooting him on out there."
In or out?
Gordon, Stewart, Johnson and Kenseth all ended up making the field despite not turning any qualifying laps, but will start from the back of the pack.
Four teams — Reed Sorenson's (No. 29), Michael Annett (No. 46), Mike Wallace (No. 66) and Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83) — won't be on track Sunday due to the inspection issues.