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Joey Logano wins NASCAR pole in Las Vegas

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 7, 2014 at 8:37 pm •  Published: March 7, 2014
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joey Logano believes two facts are abundantly clear after he emerged from the organized chaos of NASCAR's first three-round knockout qualifying session Friday with the pole position at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This new qualifying system is a whole lot more interesting than the prior system.

And nobody is quite sure what they're doing yet.

"It gets crazy out there," said Logano, who earned his eighth career pole. "I think it's way cooler than old-style qualifying, don't get me wrong. It's awesome. ... We're all learning right now. It's all new to us, but we're having fun with it. I enjoy it. I think it's cool."

The Penske Ford team has figured it out better than most. Logano won the pole for Sunday's Las Vegas race with a qualifying lap at a track-record 193.28 mph, and he'll start on the front row next to teammate Brad Keselowski, who came in second at 193.099.

The Penske drivers swept the top two spots for the second straight race, reversing their two-round qualifying finish in Phoenix a week ago. Clint Bowyer finished third, with Austin Dillon in fourth and Jimmie Johnson in fifth.

NASCAR added the knockout system to goose interest in a dull weekly ritual, and it's working. The teams are challenged by multiple chances to hit top speed. The drivers are both worried about the danger and excited by the challenge.

And fans seem quite intrigued, judging by the larger-than-normal crowd in the Speedway stands.

"That's the whole point of this," Logano said of the fan turnout. "A lot more preparation goes into it, a lot more communication between myself, my spotter, my crew chief. Not really about our race car, but how are we going to go out there, and what's our game plan? Every time we've had a game plan going into it, it's changed so far. At least we're pulling audibles and they're working."

Drivers are understandably concerned by the huge speed disparities on the track during the qualifying sessions. While some drivers were going about 30 mph to cool their engines, others were ripping right past them about 150 mph faster, resulting in a handful of near-misses. Brian Vickers even called Friday's session "the most dangerous thing I've ever done in a race car."

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