Logano Leads Ford Sweep Of Daytona 500 Front Row

Logano

Joey Logano (right) and Michael McDowell (left) will start on the front row for Sunday's Daytona 500. (Nigel Kinrade Photography)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ford Performance finally put an end to Chevrolet’s 11-year run of Daytona 500 pole positions Wednesday night, courtesy of Team Penske’s Joey Logano.

Logano, the 2015 Daytona 500 winner and a two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, earned the Busch Light Pole Award for the Great American Race by turning the fastest lap during the second and final round of single-car qualifying under the lights at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

Driving the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang Dark Horse, Logano toured the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 49.465 seconds (181.947 mph) to earn his 29th career Cup Series pole and first since Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway last March.

It’s the first time that Logano has earned the right to lead the Daytona 500 field to green in his career.

“This is all about the team. Honestly, I’d like to take credit, but I can’t today,” said Logano. “The guys have done such an amazing job working on these cars. Superspeedway qualifying is 100 percent the car, because there’s only so much the driver can do, so I’m really proud of them. That’s a big win for our team, for everyone at Team Penske, and for Ford with the new Dark Horse Mustang.

“Finally, someone else wins the pole here. That part feels good,” added Logano, whose pole marked the first Daytona 500 pole for car owner Roger Penske. “I’ve never even been close to a superspeedway pole before, so this is my first pole on a speedway, and it couldn’t be at a cooler event. It’s a huge deal.”

In perhaps the surprise of the night, Ford fully locked out the front row for Sunday’s Daytona 500, with 2021 winner Michael McDowell putting Bob Jenkins’ Front Row Motorsports team on the outside pole.

McDowell’s lap of 49.536 seconds (181.686 mph) in the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Mustang Dark Horse was enough to edge 2022 Daytona 500 polesitter Kyle Larson for front-row honors by .014 seconds.

“The feeling is awesome,” said McDowell of securing a front-row starting spot. “This is the best that we have ever qualified down here. We’ve always had fast Ford Mustangs, but we really put an emphasis on seeing how much speed we could get out of it this year. We know that we can work on [the car] Thursday and Friday to get where we need to be for the race.

“A pole is something that is on my bucket list this year to try and get done. I don’t have a Cup Series pole, and I thought we had a good shot at that one,” McDowell added. “Joey got us there, but two Dark Horse Mustangs on the front row for the Daytona 500 is awesome. … We put in a massive effort to try to come down here and have a lot of speed, and we did, so this is a good start to the weekend for us.”

Ford’s front-row sweep for the Daytona 500 was its first-such performance since 2012, when Roush Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle qualified one-two for the Great American Race.

Providing neither one crashes out of their Bluegreen Vacations Duel qualifying race Thursday night, or otherwise has to go to a backup car for any reason, Logano and McDowell are guaranteed to start first and second when the 66th edition of the Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing goes green Sunday afternoon.

Larson was fastest among the Bowtie Brigade and among the four-car Hendrick Motorsports stable, which had won eight of the last nine Daytona 500 poles prior to Wednesday night.

The 2021 Cup Series champion’s best lap in the final round was 49.550 seconds (181.635 mph) in the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

Logano’s Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric made it three Fords among the top four in qualifying, with two-time Daytona 500 polesitter Chase Elliott fifth in the final round.

William Byron, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain, and Wood Brothers Racing’s Harrison Burton were the balance of the 10 drivers who transferred through both rounds of knockout qualifying.

McDowell’s Front Row Motorsports teammate Todd Gilliland was the first driver who failed to advance out of round one, falling .003 seconds short of Burton with a time of 49.906 seconds (180.339 mph).

Legacy Motor Club’s Erik Jones was the best among the nine Toyota drivers attempting this year’s Daytona 500, going 22nd fastest in the No. 43 AdventHealth Camry XSE at 50.101 seconds (179.637 mph).

Beard Motorsports’ Anthony Alfredo (20th) and RFK Racing’s David Ragan (27th) were the two non-chartered drivers who guaranteed themselves starting spots in Sunday’s Daytona 500 based on their qualifying speeds Wednesday night, leaving two spots available out of Thursday’s Duel qualifying races.

On-track action for the NASCAR Cup Series continues Thursday at Daytona Int’l Speedway with the 150-mile Bluegreen Vacations Duels to set the field for the 66th edition of the Great American Race.

The first Duel is slated for a 7 p.m. ET start, with live coverage on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.