Another session of knock-out qualifying means another front-row sweep for Team Penske. But this time around, Joey Logano will start on the pole, while teammate Brad Keselowski, last week’s pole sitter at Phoenix International Speedway, rides shotgun from the second position when the field takes the green flag on Sunday for the Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I knew Joey was going to be it (pole winner),” Keselowski said. “The cars at Team Penske are so consistent, so you know if you leave a little out there, your teammate is going to get it.”
Several drivers, including Keselowski, posted lap times faster than the previous track qualifying record during the first of three rounds of qualifying. In the third and final round, both Logano and Keselowski beat those times, with Logano claiming a new track record with a time of 27.939 seconds and Keselowski posting a fast lap at 27.965 seconds.
Unlike at Phoenix a week ago when Logano was fastest in the first round, he almost didn’t make it past the first round at Las Vegas.
“We got kind of screwed up the first time,” Logano said. “We almost didn’t make it the first round.”
On Sunday’s starting grid, Clint Bowyer and Austin Dillon will share the second row. Jimmie Johnson, the only Hendrick Motorsports driver to advance to the final round of 12 will start fifth.
Johnson’s three HMS teammates, Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon fell just shy of making the round of 12 and will start the race together, with Kahne starting 13th, Earnhardt 14th and Gordon 15th. Kahne suffered a hole in one of his tires in the second round and lost track time while NASCAR decided whether or not he would be able to replace the tire. It was replaced just in time for Kahne to cool his engine for a run in the final seconds of the second round, but he fell just short of climbing into the top-12 and advancing.
“It was really close,” Kahne said. “Jut missed it by 0.002.”
Ricky Stenhouse qualified sixth, Jamie McMurray seventh, Aric Almirola eighth, and Brian Vickers wound up ninth after running the fastest lap in the opening round. Ryan Newman qualified 10th.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR