Saturday, March 8, 2014
The Associated Press
BROOKLYN, Mich. - On another record-setting day at Michigan International Speedway, Joey Logano raced to one of the fastest qualifying speeds in NASCAR history.
WHERE: Michigan International Speedway (400 miles, 200 laps)
WHEN: 1 p.m.
Logano won the pole at 203.949 mph Friday in his No. 22 Ford, breaking the track record set by Marcos Ambrose last year. Ambrose's mark of 203.241 came on the first Sprint Cup weekend on a newly paved surface at MIS. His record lasted 14 months.
Logano's speed was the ninth-highest by a NASCAR pole winner -- and the fastest since Bill Elliott set the record of 212.809 at Talladega on April 30, 1987.
"I don't know how fast it is, but it feels freaking fast," Logano said.
Kurt Busch qualified second, and points leader Jimmie Johnson was third.
Logano is 16th in the Cup standings, and this is his first pole of the year. He could use a good showing this weekend as he tries to make a final push to reach the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Logano is 27 points behind 10th-place Martin Truex Jr., and he hasn't won a race this season. But a victory at Michigan could change everything, vaulting him closer to Chase position on points and boosting his chances at a wild card.
There are four races left before the Chase.
"We're 27 points out. That doesn't sound like a lot, but the amount of cars that are in between us is a lot," Logano said. "We're one bad race from saying, 'We're out.' So we've got to make the most out of these four."
It's the sixth career pole for the 23-year-old Logano. He's coming off three consecutive top-10 finishes, although he hasn't won in over a year. Logano finished ninth at Michigan in June.
Busch is in 11th place in the standings, so his solid starting position comes at a good time for him.
Mark Martin qualified fourth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was seventh. Defending Cup champion Brad Keselowski was ninth.
WHILE TONY STEWART recovers from a broken leg, his team is still figuring out how to move on without him.
"I'm working under the assumption that he's out for the next month or so or longer," said Greg Zipadelli, competition director at Stewart-Haas Racing. "He went to the doctor's this week, he had a decent visit. No setbacks. Basically, very simple instructions -- stay in bed with your leg up over your heart for the next seven days."
Stewart broke his right leg in a sprint car crash Aug. 5 at Southern Iowa Speedway. He was released from the hospital last weekend.
Austin Dillon is racing in Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway this week, but the schedule beyond that is unclear.
Said Zipadelli: "It will be two drivers probably the rest of the year ... just try to get them guys to try to build some chemistry and get the best finishes we can."
Dillon, 23, who won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title two years ago, competes this year in the Nationwide Series and holds the points lead.