BROOKLYN, Mich. – Joey Logano was just a bit faster than Aric Almirola during qualifying.
Almirola is getting used to that feeling.
Logano won his second NASCAR Cup Series pole of the season Saturday, while Almirola again fell just short of the top qualifying spot. Almirola has one pole this year but is set to start in the No. 2 spot for the fourth time.
“Close but no cigar. What is that old saying – close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?” Almirola said. “That is frustrating to get that close to getting a pole that often and only have one pole. We seem to always get beat just by a little bit by somebody different every time.”
It’s actually happened more than once with Logano. Almirola qualified second behind the Team Penske driver at Martinsville , too.
This was Logano’s 22nd career pole and fourth at Michigan International Speedway. He’ll try for his second victory of the season Sunday. Kevin Harvick qualified third.
Logano posted a lap of 38.474 seconds (187.139 mph) in his No. 22 Ford. There were five Fords in the top six and eight in the top 10.
Logano’s speed was noticeably slow at a track where a few years ago, drivers would routinely post laps above 200 mph.
“We used to be hauling the mail around here in qualifying and you would get the shakes afterward,” Logano said. “Today was more about precision and making sure you hit the line with what you are looking for and hitting your shift points and gaining as much speed as you can up to speed, and then just doing what your game plan was before you got out there and maximizing that.”
Of the 99 previous Cup races at Michigan, 21 have been won from the No. 1 starting position. That includes victories by Logano in 2013 and 2016. Fewer than half of those races (47) were won by someone who started outside the top four.
Back in the pack
Joe Gibbs Racing has already accounted for nine victories this season, but Denny Hamlin was JGR’s only driver in the top 10 in qualifying. He was fourth.
Erik Jones, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were 14th, 15th and 16th.
Harvick and Clint Bowyer won the two Michigan races last year, and Kyle Larson won the three before that. Bowyer qualified fifth Saturday, and Larson was 22nd.
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