Joey Logano claims pole in controversial qualifying session at Atlanta


Feb 27, 2015; Hampton, GA, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano (22) after winning the pole position for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

With a 28.477-second/194.683 mph lap in the third of three rounds of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Joey Logano claimed the pole for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTest 500.

"“Hopefully, we’ll finish where we start,” Logano said, last weekend’s Daytona 500 winner, said. “It’s been an amazing few weeks if you think about the Daytona 500 and everything that comes along with that, and then coming down here to Atlanta and starting first is special, especially for me here at this race track. I remember sitting in the corner and watching drivers up here talking about their qualifying run and racing Legends caars out front here for years, so there are a lot of memories here.”"

Logano was fast throughout the qualifying session. He posted the fastest time in the first round and was second-fastest to Kevin Harvick in round two.

"“I felt like we definitely left some out in the second round,” Logano said."

Harvick was second to Logano in the final round and will start alongside Logano on the front row Sunday.

The qualifying session to determine the starting grid for Sunday’s race was a controversial one, as teams struggled to get through inspection. As a result, several drivers failed to make qualifying laps. Of the 47 cars that expected to attempt a qualifying run, 13 were unable to get through inspection in time to make it onto the track during the first round of qualifying. Drivers starting in the back because of not posting a qualifying lap include four past champions, three of those being multi-time champions — Jeff Gordon (35th), Matt Kenseth (36th), Jimmie Johnson (37th) and Tony Stewart (39th).

According to Sprint Cup Series Director Richard Buck, there was a back-log because teams were pushing the limits for the first race under a new rules package and many had to make multiple trips through inspection.

"“I think we saw different areas, where teams were pushing the limits to get through it (inspection),” Buck said."

NASCAR delayed the start of qualifying by 15 minutes “to make sure we ran every caar through there at least once,” according to Buck.

The inspection process turned controversial when some team members claimed that NASCAR turned off a laser indicator that normally lights red or green to notify a pass or fail in a certain area. Various crew members voiced concerns over fairness when some cars seemed to pass through inspection with the red/green indicator turned off.

"“We treat everybody the same,” Buck said."

Buck also put the responsibility of getting through inspection on race teams.

“It’s their responsibility is to come there right and to the limits,” Buck said.

Here is the starting grid for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500:

Row 1: Joey Logano (22 Ford), Kevin Harvick (4 Chevrolet)
Row 2: Jamie McMurray (1 Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (11 Toyota)
Row 3: Carl Edwards (19 Toyota), Kyle Larson (42 Chevrolet)
Row 4: Ryan Newman (31 Chevrolet), Sam Hornish Jr. (9 Ford)
Row 5: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88 Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne (5 Chevrolet)
Row 6: A.J. Allmendinger (47 Chevrolet), Brad Keselowski (2 Ford)
Row 7: Paul Menard (27 Chevrolet), Martin Truex Jr. (78 Chevrolet)
Row 8: Austin Dillon (3 Chevrolet), Justin Allgaier (51 Chevrolet)
Row 9: David Ragan (18 Toyota), Danica Patrick (10 Chevrolet)
Row 10: Greg Biffle (16 Ford), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (17 Ford)
Row 11: Casey Mears (13 Chevrolet), Brett Moffitt (55 Toyota)
Row 12: Aric Almirola (43 Ford), Michael McDowell (95 Ford)
Row 13: David Bowyer (15 Toyota), David Gilliland (38 Ford)
Row 14: Mike Bliss (32 Ford), Joe Nemechek (34 Ford)
Row 15: Trevor Bayne (6 Ford), J.J. Yeley (23 Toyota)
Row 16: Brendan Gaughan (62 Chevrolet), Brian Scott (33 Chevrolet)
Row 17: Josh Wise (98 Ford), Ron Hornaday (30 Chevrolet)
Row 18: Jeff Gordon (24 Chevrolet), Matt Kenseth (20 Toyota)
Row 19: Jimmie Johnson (48 Chevrolet), Regan Smith (41 Chevrolet)
Row 20: Tony Stewart (14 Chevrolet), Jeb Burton (26 Toyota)
Row 21: Cole Whitt (35 Ford), Alex Bowman (7 Chevrolet)
Row 22: Landon Cassill (40 Chevrolet)

DNQ: Mike Wallace (66), Matt DiBenedetto (83), Michael Annett (46), Reed Sorenson (29)

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