March 7, 2014 — report by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Race Chaser Online — photo courtesy Jerry Markland / Getty Images North America — LAS VEGAS — Talk about Penske power.
The second verse of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series knockout qualifying was the same as the first, only this time with the top two players reversed from a week ago.
Joey Logano won the Coors Light Pole Award during Friday night’s Coors Light Pole Qualifying session at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, setting a new track record of 193.278 mph in the process.
The starting lineup will feature Team Penske on the front row for the second straight race, with Brad Keselowski posting the second-fastest qualifying speed at 193.099 mph.
A week ago at Phoenix, Team Penske swept the front row as well with Keselowski on the pole and Logano placing second in group qualifying.
“To have a Penske front row the last two weekends at two completely different race tracks, it just goes to show just how hard these guys have been working,” Logano said of his final-round run and pole win. “When you work hard, results come. We obviously haven’t won on Sunday yet, so we’ve got to figure out the big show.”
Following Keselowski will be Clint Bowyer, rookie Austin Dillon and Jimmie Johnson, who rounded out the fast five. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jamie McMurray, Aric Almirola, Brian Vickers, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. completed the rest of the top-12 qualifiers.
This weekend was the first time the new knockout qualifying system was used at a 1.5-mile oval. At larger tracks knockout qualifying includes three rounds, whittling the field down to 24 after round one and then to 12 for a final five-minute round.
Brian Vickers topped the first round of the knock-out qualifying format, setting a provisional track qualifying record at 192.995 mph. After the 25 minute round, 24 drivers advanced to round two, with notables outside the top 24 including Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin.
After the ten minute second round, the 12 fastest drivers advanced to round three, with Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon among those who failed to advance to the third round. Logano topped the second round with a speed of 192.905 mph.
Blake Koch, Landon Cassill, J.J. Yeley, Dave Blaney, and Joe Nemechek failed to qualify for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race.
The Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 will be held on Sunday, March 9 at 3 p.m. Eastern with live coverage on FOX.