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MENCS: Logano Earns Fifth Pole at Martinsville Speedway


MARTINSVILLE, Va — Joey Logano was once again the fastest man on the paperclip. He’ll start the STP 500 from the pole position Sunday afternoon. It’s his fifth pole at the raceway in the past five years.

“I don’t think it’s by chance,” said Logano.  “We definitely work at it a lot and talk about it a lot and it’s just been a track for most of my career I’ve qualified pretty well at, but once I’ve been able to team up with Todd and Team Penske here I’ve really been able to turn those pretty close qualifying efforts to poles.”

Aric Almirola will start the 500 lap race from the outside of the front row, after being second quickest in qualifying. He bested his averaged starting position by 17.4 spots.

“I knew that I made a mistake, so I was hoping that we’d get away with it just with the speed that we had in our car,” said Almirola, “but the 22 is always really good here and typically when you show up here you’re gonna have to beat the 22 to get the pole, at least it’s been that way the last several years.”

Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski will start third, directly behind him in the second row. Last time NASCAR was here Logano pushed Martin Truex Jr. on his way out of the final corner to win the race, but Keselowski says that’s not the kind of moment he dreams about.

“I want to lead every lap and I want to make it the most boring race you’ve ever seen in your life. … I have no interest in putting on a good show.”

Keselowski arcs his No. 2 Ford Mustang into turn-three during Busch Pole Qualifying. Photo by Jonathan McCoy.

Regarding the new, higher downforce, aero-package, Keselowski said, “the cars a little bit faster” and easier to drive here, at Martinsville Speedway.

“There’s a lot more stability on corner entry and ability to use the brakes harder. That’s the difference so far.”

Rookie driver, Daniel Hemric is racing at Martinsville Speedway for the first time in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup career. While veteran drivers will have to adjust to this new aero-package he’ll be busy learning what a cup car can do on NASCAR’s oldest venue.

“I never got to physically run the other package here, so it’s hard for me to elaborate a whole lot,” said Hemric.

“I can promise you from lap one, on the race track for me, versus the stuff I’ve watched from races past — the corners seem to be opened way further up, guys are taking bigger arcs, and just running the race track differently.”

Out of five races so far this year, Hemric has gone to the final round of qualifying twice. His team, Richard Childress Racing, has been among the most improved thus far in 2019; so to see both him and his teammate, Austin Dillon, not make it out of the third round is a bit of a shock.

“I’d rather see him on top of the board, and me not make it, so I can blame it on myself. … It was my first time qualifying a cup car around this place and you know, we definitely expect a lot more out of ourselves, and out of our company. None of us are exactly happy but we’ll put our heads down, and try to figure out what the issue is and try to correct it and move on.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the first driver to be caught speeding under NASCAR’s new effort to enforce the pit road speed limit during qualifying. He sped on pit road after he set a qualifying time in round one; NASCAR disqualified his lap time, forcing him to make a second attempt. Right at the buzzer Stenhouse went 25 fastest, one spot short of advancing to round two.

“I always thought about the speed limit leaving pit road,” said Stenhouse. “I didn’t really think about it coming in. I didn’t really know what the rule was.

“I just always thought about it leaving pit road, because normally you’re trying to go fast to get back onto the track to make some laps. I really wasn’t in a hurry for anything, I was just going down pit road.”

Hamlin was the fastest in round one and two but will start fifth on Sunday. He hasn’t won here in five years, but Hamlin is always considered a favorite to take home Martinsville Speedway’s coveted grand father clock trophy.

The first driver to miss the cut into the final round of qualifying was Chris Buescher. “Just cleaning it up a little bit,” Buescher said, “would have helped that 12 thousandths that we were missing. We should have been in the third round, but everybody will tell you the same thing — I’m proud of that effort, our guys did a really good job. We’ve got a fast car and we’ll get into the race from a pretty good starting spot.”


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