Embattled Joey Logano nips Ryan Blaney for Cup pole at Phoenix

Photo by NASCAR/Getty Images

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Apparently unfazed by last week’s controversy at Las Vegas, Joey Logano put his No. 22 Team Penske Ford on the pole for Sunday’s Camping World 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX).

 In winning his first Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at Phoenix and the 18th of his career, Logano saved his best lap for the third and decisive round, streaking around the one-mile track in the Sonoran Desert in 26.216 seconds (137.321 mph).

 Ryan Blaney (136.877 mph) was second fastest in the money round in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford, posting the best qualifying effort of his young career in Friday’s time trials.

 “I woke up this morning thinking about my race car, and how we could end up sitting here (as the pole winner) at the end of the day,” said Logano, whose day at the track started with a meeting with NASCAR officials and Kyle Busch after last Sunday’s last-lap collision between the drivers spilled over into a fistfight on pit road.

 “In between, do I have to think about other things? Yeah, obviously, we had a meeting today. There’s a lot of, I guess, distractions that we don’t typically have. So it’s a matter of managing those distractions and keeping your head back in the right spot for when it’s game time.”

 Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified third and was on top of the board late in the third round until Blaney and Logano bettered his speed of 136.783 mph. Kyle Larson claimed the fourth starting spot, followed by Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray.

 A major point of emphasis for Blaney during the offseason was qualifying, which the driver felt wasn’t as strong as it needed to be. Last week Blaney was third in Las Vegas time trials. On Friday, he was one spot better.

 “The last two weekends, we’ve shown really good speed in qualifying trim,” Blaney said. “It’s nice to have fast race cars. You’ve seen it the past two weeks. Our Wood Brothers car and the Penske group have been fast in qualifying trim.

 “That’s something to be proud of as the two organizations work well together. We just needed a little more to get there, but we were close.”

 Notes: The pole was the second straight for Team Penske, with Brad Keselowski having secured the top starting spot at Las Vegas. Keselowski will roll off sixth on Sunday. … Kevin Harvick’s mastery of Phoenix didn’t extend to Friday’s qualifying session. The eight-time Phoenix winner will start 23rd after posting his worst qualifying effort since the fall race of 2011.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – Camping World 500

Phoenix Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Friday, March 17, 2017

               1. (22)  Joey Logano, Ford, 137.321 mph.

               2. (21)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 136.877 mph.

               3. (88)  Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 136.783 mph.

               4. (42)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 136.654 mph.

               5. (1)  Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 136.302 mph.

               6. (2)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 136.193 mph.

               7. (24)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 136.152 mph.

               8. (77)  Erik Jones #, Toyota, 136.137 mph.

               9. (18)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 135.926 mph.

               10. (5)  Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 135.859 mph.

               11. (41)  Kurt Busch, Ford, 135.839 mph.

               12. (20)  Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 135.695 mph.

               13. (14)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 135.731 mph.

               14. (48)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 135.624 mph.

               15. (13)  Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 135.603 mph.

               16. (78)  Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 135.532 mph.

               17. (3)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 135.405 mph.

               18. (27)  Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 135.349 mph.

               19. (11)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 135.166 mph.

               20. (47)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 135.019 mph.

               21. (17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 134.973 mph.

               22. (31)  Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 134.821 mph.

               23. (4)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 134.469 mph.

               24. (6)  Trevor Bayne, Ford, 134.394 mph.

               25. (95)  Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 133.889 mph.

               26. (10)  Danica Patrick, Ford, 133.789 mph.

               27. (19)  Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 133.764 mph.

               28. (43)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 133.467 mph.

               29. (34)  Landon Cassill, Ford, 133.309 mph.

               30. (32)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 133.195 mph.

               31. (83)  Corey LaJoie #, Toyota, 133.062 mph.

               32. (72)  Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 133.033 mph.

               33. (37)  Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 133.013 mph.

               34. (38)  David Ragan, Ford, 132.935 mph.

               35. (15)  Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 132.052 mph.

               36. (23)  Gray Gaulding #, Toyota, 131.488 mph.

               37. (55)  Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 129.218 mph.

               38. (33)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 128.032 mph.

               39. (51)  Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 126.596 mph.

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