Friday, March 19, 2010

Logano in Home Depot Toyota Nails Bristol Pole

Photo Credit: Tom Whitmore/Getty Images for NASCAR

After a one weekend hiatus following the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series returns for a two-race short track engagement rounding out the month of March. The concrete surface of the 0.533 mile Bristol Motor Speedway oval starts the short track trek in Sunday's Food City 500 race.

Through pole qualifying on this high-banked Bristol Motor Speedway, the 19 year old Joey Logano set fastest time sailing his #20 Home Depot Toyota around in a swift 15.396 seconds. Enjoying a strong sophomore season so far in 2010, 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year Joey Logano pole is his first-career top start in the series. However, while Joey Logano's pole compliments the obvious maturing of the Joe Gibbs Racing's young talent, Logano's true growth will come on Sunday as he attempts to survive the Food City 500. After running the two Bristol races of 2009, Logano sported 38th and 34th place finishes.

Winding up 2nd place, Kurt Busch was only 1/100th of a second slower in his Penske Racing #2 Miller Lite Dodge. A 4-time winner at Bristol Motor Speedway with his last victory coming March of 2006, Kurt Busch has always been a perrenial front-runner almost every time race's raced on the oval.

While a racing adage says "money buys speed", the tight quarters and tricky corners of Bristol has a habit of defeating the notion even as well-funded Sprint Cup superteams adapt to the short track. With this being said, occasions in qualifying for lightly-financed teams to pull off an upset performance exists as a possibility. For this past qualifying session at Bristol, Dave Blaney driving the Prism Motorsports Toyota jockeyed his #66 car for a brilliant 3rd place. This qualifying result is Dave Blaney's 2nd top-5 qualifying performance for the short 2010 season.

Fourth and five place spots were snatched by the Hendrick Motorsport duo of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon while Chevrolet brandmate Juan Pablo Montoya continues to search for his first oval victory.

With this weekend's race being the first since the dramatic Atlanta incident involving Carl Edwards' late-race revenge shot on Brad Keselowski, thoughts surround what this will mean for the short track event. One of those questions regards whether a three-race suspension will affect Edwards' on-track performance. This question was answered by the #99 Ford of Carl Edwards securing 8th place on the grid. A second question for whether a stewing Keselowski might seek a return shot on Edwards at Bristol will be revealed in the race. However, the pair will start considerably far apart as Brad Keselowski could do no better than 36th in qualifying.

Last year's Food City 500 winner Kyle Busch will have a long journey to the front as the #18 Toyota encountered troubles in qualifying. Kyle Busch will start 38th for Sunday's race.

For many car owners, a top finish in the Food City 500 will prove itself a much valued commodity. With the first 5 races concluded the NASCAR Sprint Cup field will be measured on 2010 car owner points. The top-35 cars will be guaranteed a starting position through the next races. Prior to the running the upcoming Sprint Cup race at Bristol, the #36 Chevrolet and #37 Ford are sitting tied for the 35th spot. A coveted spot which will aid teams in collecting sponsorship and respect in the Sprint Cup series, 39th place #13 Toyota is only 29 points outside of the top-35 position.

2010 Food City 500 Starting Order
NASCAR Sprint Cup
Bristol Motor Speedway

1) 20 Joey Logano      Home Depot Toyota
2) 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
3) 66 Dave Blaney PRISM Motorsports Toyota
4) 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
5) 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
6) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
7) 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
8) 99 Carl Edwards Scotts Ford
9) 47 Marcos Ambrose Little Debbie Toyota
10) 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
11) 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet
12) 98 Paul Menard Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Ford
13) 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
14) 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
15) 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
16) 38 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
17) 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet
18) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet
19) 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Toyota
20) 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
21) 39 Ryan Newman Haas Automation Chevrolet
22) 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
23) 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia/Best Buy Ford
24) 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford
25) 16 Greg Biffle U.S. Census Ford
26) 33 Clint Bowyer BB&T Chevrolet
27) 09 Aric Almirola Phoenix Construction/Graceway Chevrolet
28) 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
29) 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
30) 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
31) 26 David Stremme Air National Guard Ford
32) 7 Robby Gordon Warner Music Nashville/Blake Shelton Toyota
33) 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
34) 90 Casey Mears Keyed-Up Motorsports Chevrolet
35) 87 Joe Nemechek ComputerWorks Toyota
36) 12 Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge Dodge
37) 19 Elliott Sadler Stanley Ford
38) 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
39) 55 Michael Waltrip PRISM Motorsports Toyota
40) 46 Terry Cook Whitney Motorsports Dodge
41) 34 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
42) 37 Kevin Conway Extenze Ford
43) 71 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet

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