Logano Starting on Pole, on Track for Bounce-Back Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two words went through Joey Logano’s mind as a new NASCAR season dawned.

“Fresh start. Fresh start,” he said.

He can add two like it.

“Fast start. Fast start.”

The Panini America NASCAR Brand Ambassador, eager to make up for an unexpected Round of 16 exit in the playoffs a year ago, unleashed his No. 22 Ford Mustang in qualifying for the Daytona 500 on Wednesday night and took the pole for the kickoff event on Sunday (FOX, green flag 3:11 p.m. EST).

The two-time Cup Series champion hit 181.947 mph to gain P1 on the grid for the first time at the Great American Race.

“My first pole on a speedway couldn’t be at a cooler event than the Daytona 500,” Logano said.

The Team Penske driver is joined on the front row by another Ford pilot, Michael McDowell of Front Row Motorsports.

Thursday night’s duels set the rest of the lineup, with Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, 2020 series champion Chase Elliott, former 500 champion Austin Cindric, Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin, rookie Carson Hocevar and John Hunter Nemechek making up the rest of the top 10.

“When I look at just where our team is at mentally and just our drive and our will and our willingness to fight and not quit,” Elliott said, “I think it is at an all-time high, to be honest.”

Defending series champion Ryan Blaney qualified 32nd.

Seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson raced his way in and will start 23rd in the No. 84 Toyota Camry he co-owns at Legacy Motor Club.

Kyle Larson and William Byron, Championship 4 finalists a year ago, are 17th and 18th in their Hendrick Motorsports machines.

Optimism abounds in the Sunshine State, certainly in the No. 22 camp.

“You need a reset at times,” Logano said as he looked forward to 2024. Whatever button he pushed, it cleared up the picture. He’s fast (the pole also was Team Penske’s first for a Daytona 500), and he’s confident.

“We’re a pretty tough team, an experienced team, that’s been around for a very long time at this point,” he said. “A lot of times, when we have an off year, the next year’s pretty strong. So I feel like we can do that again.”

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