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Joey Logano captures pole for 2024 Daytona 500

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Joey Logano captures pole for 2024 Daytona 500

Bob Pockrass


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Sometimes when drivers win the pole for the Daytona 500, they go into the qualifying races Thursday night thinking they must save their pole-winning car at all costs.

Joey Logano isn’t known to have the typical mindset, and he will carry the contrarian mindset into the “duel” races the same way he did the last 15 even though he could put his starting spot in jeopardy. He isn’t saving anything.

For the first time, the 2018 and 2022 Cup champion put his car on the pole for the Daytona 500 as he turned a lap of 181.947 mph Wednesday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Joining Logano on the front row for the Daytona 500 will be Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell, giving Fords a sweep of the top-two spots for the “Great American Race” (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX).

No other driver knows where they will start Sunday in the Daytona 500, as those are set by the two “duels” Thursday night. Each driver competes in one of the two duels, and for the most part, wherever they finish is the row where they will start the race on Sunday.

Although Logano and McDowell have their starting spots secured, they would have to drop to the rear of the field if they wreck during the 60-lap races tonight.

Logano dismissed any thought of playing things conservative. He said he had a “two-second” conversation with crew chief Paul Wolfe right after winning the pole.

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“Paul, we’re racing, right?” Logano recalled saying to Wolfe, who replied, “Yeah.”

“The good thing is that Paul and I have the same approach to speedway racing — we’re going racing and if something happens, something happens,” Logano said.

“It’s not worth wrecking it. But you have the same attitude whether we qualify fifth or 15th — you don’t want to go to your backup car no matter what you do. I want to make sure my car is driving good.”

Logano snapped a lengthy streak of Chevrolet poles in Daytona 500 with Hendrick-powered cars having won the last nine. The pole was the first for Team Penske in the Daytona 500.

It also was a sign of the speed in single-car runs at Daytona of the new Ford body style the manufacturer’s teams are using this year. The races Thursday will help them learn how they race in the aerodynamic draft at Daytona where the cars run in packs and to make a pass, a car often needs help from the other drivers behind in the line.

“It obviously goes fast by itself but we want to make sure it’s tuned in right,” Logano said. “I want to make sure I got everything out of it.”

The duels Thursday also will determine the final two spots in the field. Jimmie Johnson, B.J. McLeod, JJ Yeley and Kaz Grala are vying for those final two spots.

Everyone else is just vying for a good starting spot behind Logano and McDowell. There also are regular-season points awarded to the top-10 finisher in each duel.

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“We’ll go out there and be smart,” Logano said. “But we’re going to race them. There’s a trophy. There’s 10 points. We’re going to race them.”

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.

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