The Kobalt Tools 400 is scheduled for Sunday in Las Vegas, but before the actual racing begins, the drivers needed to take care of the qualifying runs and the battle for pole position.
The highlight of the qualifying runs was the dominance from Team Penske, as Jeff Gluck of the USA Today pointed out:
That's it. Team Penske sweeps the front row for the second straight week. Joey Logano wins pole, Brad Keselowski second. #NASCAR— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) March 8, 2014
Joey Logano won the pole position in impressive fashion with a best time of 27.939 seconds. His best speed was 193.278 mph. Brad Keselowski checked in at 27.965 seconds and 193.099 mph.
The top 10 after qualifying are as follows, courtesy of NASCAR.com:
|Position||Name||Best Speed||Best Time|
|6||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||192.596||28.038|
Also of note was the list of marquee names that were knocked out of qualifying competition before the third round began. NASCAR Stats alerted us of that list:
The drivers NOT advancing to 3rd round: Kahne, Dale Jr, Gordon, Harvick, Larson, Burton, Kyle Busch, Danica, Kurt B, Stewart #NASCAR— NASCAR Stats (@NASCARStats) March 8, 2014
One racer who is always of interest is Danica Patrick. Gluck pointed out that she got off to an impressive start but was eventually bumped:
Danica Patrick just got bumped with 3:30 left. She had a top-10 lap earlier, but now she's out.— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) March 8, 2014
If Earnhardt is to win the upcoming race at the Las Vegas Speedway, he will have to overcome a lengthy list of drivers who turned in better qualifying times Friday.
Fortunately for his fans, Earnhardt seems to already be focusing on where he needs to improve:
Clint Bowyer nearly hit Earnhardt Jr. during the qualifiers and commented on his close call to Gluck after the runs were over:
Bowyer almost hit Jr.: "That’s not the guy you want to hit at a 140 mph (diff.). It might hurt Dale Jr. and that would be bad for business."— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) March 8, 2014
As for those Earnhardt will have to overcome, it will be interesting to see looking forward if Team Penske can cash in on its recent momentum in these qualifying events. Tucker Sargent of 41NBC pointed out a No. 1 and No. 2 finish is nothing new for Logano and Keselowski:
For the second straight week, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski will start on the front row. #NASCAR— Tucker Sargent (@TuckSargent) March 8, 2014
If Logano, Keselowski or anyone else in the top 10 of qualifying wins the race Sunday, it is sure to shake up the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. Here is what the top of those rankings look like after race two of 36:
|1||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||90|
The defending champion in the Kobalt 400 is Matt Kenseth, but he did not turn in an impressive performance in qualifying Friday. Gluck filled us in on the details:
Matt Kenseth gets bumped out of the top 24. Big names who might miss Round 2 are Kenseth, Dale Jr., Hamlin, Gordon.— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) March 7, 2014
Make sure to tune into the race on Sunday to see if Logano takes advantage of the pole position, Kenseth defends his crown, Earnhardt continues his momentum or if someone else steals the spotlight in Vegas.