BRISTOL, Tenn. — Joey Logano backed up his fast showing in practice by winning the first pole of his career Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Logano posted a lap at 124.630 mph in his Toyota to earn the first starting spot for Sunday’s race. His previous best qualifying effort was fifth at Darlington last year.
“I have always been fast here,” he said. “I’ve always been fast and I’ve always been caught up in a wreck or knocked the fender and blew a tire, stubbed in the nose, blew a motor — I’ve about done it all here besides have an uneventful race.”
Kurt Busch, winner of the last race two weeks ago at Atlanta, qualified second with a lap at 123.857 in his Dodge. He’s off to a fast start to the season with new crew chief Steve Addington, who led Busch’s brother, Kyle, to a pair of wins at Bristol last year.
Kurt Busch is a five-time winner at Bristol, but hasn’t been to Victory Lane here since 2006.
“We’re surprised by the lap that we ran, and to be second overall was Steve throwing a couple of things at the car last minute that he was comfortable with,” Busch said. “Overall, we exceeded our expectations. I didn’t think that we’d be sitting on the front row after our qualifying run but, hey, here we are.
“It shows that things are just going our way right now.”
Dave Blaney qualified third at 123.849. Blaney qualified fourth here last August, but had trouble getting up to speed at the start, narrowly avoided causing an accident at the front of the field, and finished 43rd after running just eight laps.
“That was a deal, I forget what happened, but I got loose and got nicked a little bit and it just stacked up from there,” he said, admitting that he doesn’t know if team owner Phil Parsons will allow Blaney to run all of Sunday’s race or order him to park the car and collect purse money.
Michael Waltrip, who is driving the second entry for Parsons’ Prism Motorsports, made the field and said he knew he’d park early Sunday. It’s the first race for Waltrip since he stopped driving for Michael Waltrip Racing after the season-opening Daytona 500, and he’s trying to help Parsons make enough money to field a competitive car for Waltrip at Talladega next month.
“I went from a two-time Daytona 500 winner to a start-and-park,” said Waltrip, who will start 39th. “But they are going to send Phil Parsons a check for about $75,000 and he needs the money to keep building up his team.”
Casey Mears and Terry Cook both qualified for their first races of the season, while Max Papis and Mike Bliss failed to make the 43-car field.
The top five in qualifying was rounded out by four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.
Juan Pablo Montoya was sixth and followed by Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards. Marcos Ambrose and David Reutimann — in cars owned by MWR — rounded out the top 10.