Logano leads Ford dominance in NASCAR Cup Atlanta qualifying

HAMPTON, GEORGIA - MARCH 18: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, poses for photos after winning the pole award during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 18, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Joey Logano added another memory at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, and seven other Ford drivers followed behind him.

Covering the 1.540-mile distance in 31.256 seconds (177.374 mph), Logano won the pole for Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 (3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and led a parade of eight Ford drivers into the top eight starting positions.

That’s the first time since 1965 at Beltsville (Md.) that Fords have qualified for the top eight spots on the grid. Saturday’s result is even more impressive, given that no Chevrolets attempted to qualify for the Beltsville race, where Fords took positions one through 10.

Logano’s pole-winning run was .006 seconds faster than that of Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric (177.340 mph). Ryan Blaney qualified third at 177.215 mph, giving Penske the second 1-2-3 qualifying effort in the organization’s history.

Brad Keselowski was fourth fastest, followed by Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher and Chase Briscoe. Kyle Larson (176.213 mph) was ninth in the fastest Chevrolet.

Christopher Bell was the only Toyota driver to qualify for the final round, but he spun during his money lap and failed to post a time.

The Busch Light Pole Award was Logano’s second of the season, second at Atlanta (but first with NASCAR’s superspeedway competition package) and 28th of his career. Inevitably, Logano’s success on the big track brought back memories of his early days in racing, when he competed in Legends cars at Atlanta.

“I’ve never been on the front row at a superspeedway—forget a pole,” Logano said. “Doing it here at Atlanta for me is special. So many memories here. I lived up in one of those condos for five years and raced Legends cars out here for six years.

“Just the memories of walking into Victory Lane a minute ago to get the pole award and thinking about driving my Legend car in there, with my dad and how cool that was, and always dreaming about being on the big track when I was running the quarter-mile all the time…

“I guess I try to keep those thoughts up front in my mind.”