Joey Logano on pole for STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway
A 19.356-second/97.830 mph lap in the third and final round of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday garnered Joey Logano the pole for Sunday’s STP 500. The pole was Logano’s first of the 2019 season and makes him the sixth different pole sitter in the first six races of the year.
“You just have to be so precise and pushing yourself so hard in the corners, and a mistake is such a penalty,” Logano said. “It was awesome to get another pole here at Martinsville, and hopefully, we can top it off with another win in the books."
It was Logano’s fifth-career pole at Martinsville. He took his latest top starting spot at the track by suplanting Aric Almirola at the top of the speed chart with just over 30 seconds remaining in the final round.
“It was a great lap,” Logano said. “I think we were able to get through the first couple rounds without putting many laps on our tires, and that really paid a reward as we got to the third round. The car was pretty good. The car wasn’t too far off. We didn’t make a mock qualifying run in practice, so it was a little bit of an unknown when you roll into qualifying here, but the guys did a good job of making the right adjustments to have something pretty close, to be able to carry a lot of speed, and ultimately, to be able to get the pole here. It’s important to win a pole here, to start up front is obviously safer, but you can also run your pace and a safer place on pit road as well, so I think when you think of that stuff it gives you an advantage going into tomorrow’s race, so hopefully we can turn that into a win.”
Logano looked to be in tire-conservation mode throughout the first two rounds before making four timed laps in his quest for the pole in the final lap. He was one of only three drivers in the opening round to make only two laps in the round and the only drive to post only one official lap in the second round. The results were sixth in each of the first two rounds.
Ford, with two pairs of teammates, swept the top-four starting spots for a stranglehold on the front two rows of Sunday’s starting grid. Almirola shared the front row with Logano, while Logano’s Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski and Almirola’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick started right behind them in the second row.
All four SHR drivers, also including Daniel Suarez and Clint Bowyer, were among the 12 drivers who advanced to the final round of qualifying. The other Stewart-Haas duo wound up 10th and 11th, respectively.
Denny Hamlin was the highest qualifying Toyota driver in fifth after being fastest in rounds one and two. His 19.355-second/97.835 mph lap in the opening round was the fastest lap of record, overall, of the three-round session.
William Byron was the highest-qualifying Chevrolet driver in sixth.
“I am kind of optimistic, but we have had a rough day,” Byron said. "These two-day shows are tough, and we started out with a flat right-front and hit the wall. Then, in second practice, we were way behind, because we didn’t have enough practice time. The guys made a lot of great changes to get it right going into qualifying. We were really struggling over the bumps over both ends, really, and getting on the concrete. We will see what happens; should be fun.”