Joey Logano took the first step toward a second NASCAR Cup Series championship on Saturday afternoon by winning the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Logano navigated the one-mile Phoenix Raceway in 26.788 seconds (134.389 mph) in the final round of time trials to edge Team Penske teammate and non-Playoff driver Ryan Blaney (134.373 mph) by .003 seconds for the top starting spot in the event that will crown the 2022 series champion.
“That’s the goal,” Logano said. “It keeps the pressure on the competition.”
But Logano didn’t think he had a pole-winning lap when he ran it.
“No, because it went slower than the run before (in the opening round),” he said. “It seemed like tire falloff was a real thing. I kind of got done with my lap and was like, ‘Eh.’ I thought it was going to be like third or fourth probably, just not as good as what it was the first run.
“I overcompensated some of the adjustments I wanted to make as a driver and probably didn’t adjust the car enough as much as we needed to for some other things, but I guess everybody’s tires fell off, and that was a better lap than I thought it was.”
With Ford drivers sweeping the top three positions on the grid, Chase Briscoe qualified third at 134.203 mph, followed by Kyle Larson (133.844 mph), whose No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is eligible for the owners’ championship but not the drivers’ title.
Championship 4 driver Chase Elliott (133.437 mph) will start fifth. Like Logano, Elliott is seeking a second Cup Series title.
“The narrative is there for the writing, and it’s our job to make sure it goes our way,” said Elliott, who hasn’t been at his best in the Playoffs so far.
Non-Playoff drivers Harrison Burton, Kevin Harvick, William Byron, Cole Custer and Ty Gibbs will start from positions six through 10, respectively.
The two drivers who advanced to the Championship 4 with eleventh-hour heroics last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway—race winner Christopher Bell and rim rider Ross Chastain—will start at a disadvantage on Sunday after failing to make the final round.
Bell will start 17th and Chastain 25th in Sunday’s title race.
“I was too loose on the throttle,” said Chastain, who was fastest in Friday’s practice but out of balance in qualifying trim. “It’s a great thing for (Sunday) but not good right now.”
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