Joey Logano won the pole at Martinsville Speedway on Friday to set up a shot at his fourth consecutive win and a quick berth into NASCAR’s championship race.
Logano turned a lap at 98.548 in Friday qualifying to earn the top starting spot. He heads into Sunday’s race coming off three consecutive wins — a sweep of the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Should Logano win Sunday, he’ll be the first driver since Jimmie Johnson in 2007 to win four straight races.
“We’re doing everything right, but all that can end in a blink of an eye,” Logano said.
Martin Truex Jr. qualified second and was thrilled with his starting spot.
“We didn’t know going into qualifying we’d have that good of speed,” Truex said. “Definitely a good start to the weekend for us.”
AJ Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray, who are not in the Chase, qualified third and fourth.
Jeff Gordon will try to win his ninth career race at Martinsville from the fifth starting spot. Kyle Busch qualified sixth and was followed by Ryan Newman, who was eliminated from the Chase last week.
Brad Keselowski was the next highest qualifying Chase driver at 11th and Kevin Harvick was 12th.
Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch both failed to advance to the final round. Edwards will start 14th and Busch 15th, lowest of the Chase drivers.
“We can do well from 14th, we can win from there,” Edwards said. “With a good car here, you can do some good. We’ll be just fine.”
Kasey Kahne spun in the first round of qualifying and wrecked his car, and also the lap of Keselowski during that run. Keselowski hit his steering wheel when the caution came out, then later pulled into his garage stall, tossed the steering wheel and threw his gloves.
“Somebody decided to spin out in the middle of a run right when we were going for it, and it ruined my tires for the rest of the session,” Keselowski said.
Verstappen fastest in Formula One practice
Toro Rosso teenager Max Verstappen topped the first practice at the Mexican Grand Prix then crashed out early in the second during Formula One’s first official laps at the revamped Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez since 1992.
The rookie, who turned 18 in September and only recently earned his Dutch driver’s license, was the surprise leader early Friday. But the tricky course caught him in the second practice when he crashed minutes in and had to get a ride back to his garage.
That was when the track was still dry. A light rain fell over the final half hour.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was fastest in the second practice with a lap of 1 minute, 21.531 seconds. He is chasing Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for second place in the driver standings with three races left.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won the season championship last week at the United States Grand Prix.