Logano takes critical first Cup playoff pole at Darlington

Matt Thacker/NKP/Motorsport Images

Logano takes critical first Cup playoff pole at Darlington

NASCAR

Logano takes critical first Cup playoff pole at Darlington

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Joey Logano will start from the pole in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener at Darlington Raceway with a fast lap of 168.521mph (29.181s). He was the highest qualifying playoff driver Saturday afternoon. It is his second pole of the season and second pole at Darlington.

“Obviously nice to start up front here,” Logano said. “We got a taste of what that first pit stall means here at Darlington [in the spring], and it’s nice for sure. It’s definitely really close to that pit out line, and you don’t have to get all the way back up to speed, so there are definitely spots available in the pit stall. You let the pit stall do the work, and I feel really good about that.

“It’s nice to get that, but it’s just the start. You have a whole 500 miles to go…so, we’ll fire off and see what we’ve got tomorrow. Going off practice from the spring to the race the first time [here], the track was much different in the race than it was in practice and [I] kind of got a feeling that’s some of what is going to happen tomorrow. We’ll try to adjust on our car a little bit for race trim. I think we need a little bit there, but I don’t think we’re that far off, and if we get a little more turn in our car, we’ll be right there.”

The No. 22 Team Penske group of Logano and crew chief Paul Wolfe are the most recent winners at Darlington, going to victory lane in the spring.

Alongside Logano on the front row will be Christopher Bell, who clocked in at 168.469mph.

William Byron qualified third at 168.186mph, Tyler Reddick fourth at 167.853mph and Kyle Busch fifth at 167.705mph.

Austin Cindric qualified sixth at 167.630mph, Kyle Larson seventh at 167.550mph, Bubba Wallace eighth at 167.066mph. Ryan Blaney ninth at 166.998mph, and Michael McDowell completed the top 10 at 166.885mph.

Playoff drivers Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain and Austin Dillon qualified 11th, 12th and 13th, respectively. Hamlin’s lap was 168.474mph while Chastain ran 168.255mph and Dillon ran 167.430mph.

Alex Bowman qualified 16th after getting into the wall during his lap. He tweeted that he “sent it like it was going to stick,” but it didn’t. Bowman’s team found no significant issues with his car after the contact.

Kevin Harvick qualified 18th and Chase Briscoe qualified 19th. Chase Elliott was the lowest playoff driver who made a qualifying lap in the 23rd position.

The only playoff driver to not set a time was Daniel Suarez. The No. 99 car failed inspection three times and he was not permitted to make a lap. Suarez also lost pit stall selection, his car chief was ejected, and he’ll have to serve a pass-through penalty at the start of Sunday’s race.

UP NEXT: Southern 500 at 6 p.m. ET Sunday.

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