Logano unlikely winner at Sonoma

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 24, 2011

By Jenna Fryer
Associated Press
SONOMA, Calif. — Joey Logano never thought he’d win the pole at Infineon Raceway, even after he claimed the top qualifying spot.
As he sat in his Joe Gibbs Racing hauler Friday watching the final drivers make their qualifying laps, Logano expected to be bumped. But when Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch all failed to beat him, Logano wound up with just the second pole of his career.
Logano turned a lap at 93.256 mph in his Toyota to claim the top starting spot in Sunday’s race.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “We were sitting in the trailer watching the last three guys to go and it was Kasey, who got the pole here last year, Denny, who is really good here and our teammate, and then Kurt, who has got the last three poles in a row. We didn’t think we were going to be good enough to get the pole, but made some good adjustments and got some speed in the car.
“This is the last place I expected to get a pole. I never considered myself a road course racer.”
Logano snapped Busch’s streak of three straight poles this season.
Jamie McMurray qualified second in a Chevrolet with a lap at 93.223 and Paul Menard was third in a Chevrolet. Hamlin was fourth, Ryan Newman fifth and Kahne sixth.
Richard Petty Motorsports teammates AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose qualified seventh and eighth in Fords.
Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers filled out the top 10.
Busch wound up 11th and defending race winner Jimmie Johnson was 12th.
Tony Ave was the only driver to fail to qualify for the race.
Current points leader Carl Edwards qualified 23rd and decided to skip the Nationwide Series race Saturday at Road America. Running the event in Wisconsin would have forced him to miss both practices Saturday in Sonoma, and he decided to let Billy Johnson race in his place to concentrate on Cup.
It will snap Edwards’ streak of 210 consecutive starts — the longest active streak in the Nationwide Series.
“We felt like as a team that we needed more practice on the Cup side,” Edwards said.
For Logano, the qualifying run was a much-needed boost for a struggling driver. After closing last season strong, he was picked by many to make the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship this year.
But he’s had a rocky start to the year, and has just two top-10 finishes through the first 15 races. He’s ranked 23rd in points.
Starting first Sunday will give him his first lap led at Sonoma, and in two previous starts, he’s not finished higher than 19th.
“We’ve been going through a bit of a drought, so this is going to help us a lot,” Logano said. “I really think the big thing today is self-confidence in me and the team and giving us momentum.
“Knowing you can do it now and you can drive around a road course, I think that is going to help us get our car setup better and in the race help us be as smart and methodical as you can.”