Joey Logano secured his first pole position of the season in qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sears Point.
The 21-year-old surprised even himself with his first ever pole position on a road course – only his second at NASCAR's top level – bringing Penske Racing's pole-position streak to a halt with the first of the year for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Logano bumped Ryan Newman from pole position with a lap of 1m16.821s, after the Stewart-Haas racer had been the first to break the 77-second barrier. Earnhardt Ganassi's Jamie McMurray later came closest to the new benchmark, ending up 27 thousandths of a second adrift from the JGR driver's pole.
"This is the last place that I figured we'd get a pole, I don't consider myself a road course expert," said Logano. "I've never had a top-10 start here and I've never finished that good here either. After practice, I felt like we needed a lot more forward drive and a lot more side-bite in our car. Man, they made it happen. I said, 'Jeez, should have asked for that a long time ago...'
"I was surprised, I felt like my lap was OK, didn't feel like it was stellar by no means. Man, a hell of a lap.
"We are pretty pumped up right now, we needed a momentum change with our team right now. We've been going through a little bit of a drought. This is definitely going to help us a lot."
Logano is on double duty this weekend, as besides the Cup event he is also entered in the regional NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race, which he will be starting from the front row on Saturday.
Richard Childress Racing's Paul Menard claimed by far his best-ever qualifying result on a road course with third on the grid, while Logano's teammate Denny Hamlin was fourth. Red Bull's Kasey Kahne was fifth ahead of Richard Petty Motorsports teammates AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose, who will share the fourth row of the grid ahead of RCR's Bowyer and Red Bull's Brian Vickers.
Penske's Kurt Busch was on a streak of three pole positions heading into qualifying and had set the pace in the morning practice, getting to go out last in the order to complete his flying lap. However, a sideways moment at Turn 4 was compounded by a mistake under braking for Turn 7, which meant he ended up 11th ahead of the Hendrick duo of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.
Points leader Carl Edwards was 23rd fastest and admitted to struggling during the day, eventually deciding to stay at Sears Point on Saturday having initially planned to fly to Road America to compete in the Nationwide Series. He will therefore miss a second-tier series race for the first time since June 2005.
Joe Nemechek was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 31st right behind road course ringer Boris Said, while Tony Ave was the only one left outside the starting field for Sunday's race.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 1m16.821s
2. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 1m16.848s + 0.027s
3. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 1m16.887s + 0.066s
4. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 1m16.965s + 0.144s
5. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet 1m16.981s + 0.160s
6. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota 1m17.085s + 0.264s
7. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford 1m17.086s + 0.265s
8. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 1m17.100s + 0.279s
9. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet 1m17.173s + 0.352s
10. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 1m17.265s + 0.444s
11. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge 1m17.352s + 0.531s
12. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 1m17.398s + 0.577s
13. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 1m17.404s + 0.583s
14. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 1m17.411s + 0.590s
15. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 1m17.493s + 0.672s
16. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet 1m17.500s + 0.679s
17. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 1m17.523s + 0.702s
18. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 1m17.556s + 0.735s
19. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 1m17.576s + 0.755s
20. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet 1m17.714s + 0.893s
21. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 1m17.737s + 0.916s
22. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 1m17.788s + 0.967s
23. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 1m17.805s + 0.984s
24. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 1m17.851s + 1.030s
25. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 1m17.881s + 1.060s
26. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 1m18.024s + 1.203s
27. Casey Mears Germain Toyota 1m18.070s + 1.249s
28. Robby Gordon Gordon Dodge 1m18.081s + 1.260s
29. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 1m18.134s + 1.313s
30. Boris Said Phoenix Chevrolet 1m18.207s + 1.386s
31. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 1m18.376s + 1.555s
32. David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 1m18.391s + 1.570s
33. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 1m18.454s + 1.633s
34. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford 1m18.505s + 1.684s
35. PJ Jones Gordon Dodge 1m18.533s + 1.712s
36. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 1m18.541s + 1.720s
37. Mike Skinner Germain Toyota 1m18.915s + 2.094s
38. David Mayhew HP Toyota 1m19.107s + 2.286s
39. Terry Labonte FAS Lane Ford 1m19.157s + 2.336s
40. Brian Simo Whitney Chevrolet 1m19.295s + 2.474s
41. Andy Lally TRG Chevrolet 1m19.333s + 2.512s
42. Chris Cook Front Row Ford 1m19.349s + 2.528s
43. Andy Pilgrim Whitney Chevrolet 1m19.702s + 2.881s
Did not qualify:
Tony Ave Front Row Ford 1m19.851s + 3.030s