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Team Penske extends deals with Shell, Joey Logano, Todd Gordon

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Joey Logano, crew chief Todd Gordon and sponsor Shell all have extended their contracts with Team Penske for 2022 and beyond, the team announced Friday at Daytona International Speedway.

The announcement marks the second consecutive day that a NASCAR team has announced a driver and sponsor contract extension. Joe Gibbs Racing revealed Thursday that it had signed Denny Hamlin and sponsor FedEx to a multi-year extension.

Logano’s contract was set to expire after the 2018 season, team owner Roger Penske confirmed. The extension is a play on Logano’s car number (22). Team officials declined to say how much beyond 2022 the contracts go. Penske said that Shell would be the primary sponsor for more than 30 races a season on Logano’s car.

Logano, the 2015 Daytona 500 champion, won the Clash on Sunday to begin Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway. He has 15 Cup victories since joining Team Penske in 2013 and has never finished worse than eighth in the points during that time. Twice he’s gone to the season finale in Miami with a chance to win the championship, finishing a second last year.

Penske said that the long-term commitments announced Friday are “a priority for me.

“I want long-term commitments and people want them from us,’’ Penske said. “It’s the same thing with the drivers. I think a driver with a solid ride for a long time, it’s all he’s going to worry about rather than ‘Is my deal up?’ and then you get all this commotion around the driver. It’s a real calming effect.’’

MORE: How Penske took chance on Joey Logano

Penske confirmed that Brad Keselowski’s contact is set to expire after this season but that they’re working on an extension.

Penske and Shell executives touted the deal in how it helps Penske’s businesses, including Penske Truck Leasing and the Penske Automotive Group, while also helps Shell extend its footprint.

“It gave us a chance to combine the business side,’’ Penske said.

Said Istvan Kapitany, Executive Vice President, Shell Global Retail, of the deal: “What is so exciting about the Penske relationship with Shell is the strategic nature of it and also the fact that it is a global opportunity for both of us to grow together. In Shell, we do believe in long-term strategic partnerships. Ferrari is a partner with us for more than 60 years. We believe with Penske we found the partner who can be with us at least for 60 years.’’

The partnership also can play a role on the track, noted Colin Abraham, President, Shell Lubricants Americas.

“We can formulate the oil to suit the vehicle and to suit the engines and it’s a wonderful test track for us with formulation development,’’ he said. “We have scientists working literally week by week looking at the performance of the engine and the performance of the oil, even changing the oil during the season to try to get some more horsepower. It’s almost like a live laboratory to test products.’’

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Starting grid for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 400

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With the second pole of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Kyle Larson will lead the field to green Sunday in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Joining Larson the front row is Denny Hamlin.

Filling out the top five is Brad Keselowski, Martin Treux Jr. and Ryan Newman.

Click here for the starting grid.

Kyle Larson wins pole for Auto Club 400, second Cup pole of career

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Kyle Larson ended a three-year drought by winning the pole for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 400.

Larson won his second Cup Series pole with a speed of 187.047 mph around Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. His first pole came in the August 2013 race at Pocono Raceway.

The pole continues Larson’s impressive start to 2017. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver leads the point standings after earning three consecutive second-place finishes.

“I felt like messed up there in Turn 1 and 2 and I got a little bit loose off the wall on the entry and it got me to split the seam in (Turn) 1 and 2,” Larson told Fox Sports. “I was able to commit to (being) wide open off (Turn) 1 and 2. I hadn’t ran up high in (Turn) 3 and 4 at all in practice or qualifying here. Didn’t really know what I would have out there but ran a good ways and it stuck. … Our Target team has been really amazing to start the season and to get a pole is great. … Got a little team dinner tonight, so this will be a good thing to celebrate.”

Larson’s run knocked Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin from the top spot. As Larson drove down pit road, a Fox Sports camera caught Hamlin playfully showing his dissatisfaction by emptying a cup of ice in the direction of the No. 42.

“This is No. 1 on my list of track I want to win,” Hamlin told Fox Sports. “It’s bitten me mentally and physically … definitely one I want to check off.”

Filling out the top five is Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Newman.

Daniel Suarez qualified 10th for his best career Cup start.

No Hendrick Motorsports entries will start in the top 10. Kasey Kahne was the top qualifier in 12th, followed by Chase Elliott.

Five cars did not make qualifying attempts, with one of them being by choice. Jimmie Johnson’s team elected not to make an attempt following his accident in practice. He will start 37th.

Joining Johnson at the back of the field will be Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Matt DiBenedetto and Gray Gaulding. All of their cars did not make it through inspection in time to qualifying.

Click here for qualifying results.

Jimmie Johnson’s team elects not to make qualifying run after accident in practice

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Following Jimmie Johnson’s accident in practice early Friday, Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 team chose not to qualify with a backup car at Auto Club Speedway.

Johnson, a six-time winner at Auto Club Speedway, will start 37th in Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

Four other cars, including those of Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne, will start in the back after they did not make qualifying attempts. Their cars failed to get through inspection in time. Rookie Gray Gaulding and Matt DiBenedetto also did not qualify because their cars failed to get through inspection.

Johnson explained his team’s decision.

“We had a tough practice session and mid-pack was probably going to be our goal anyway,” he said. “So, to take our lumps here, at a track that’s really wide with a lot of lanes, a long race; we’ll just take our lumps and get the car right where we can take advantage of the precious minutes that we have in Saturday’s practice session and go from there. Pit road is going to be a problem. We’re not going to have a great pick there. We’re definitely not in a position we want to be in, so we’d rather take the time now and make sure we get everything right and get this car right; and also kind of control our risk factor.”

With ACS being such a wide race track with plenty of passing opportunities, Johnson is not in as bad a position to start Sunday’s race as he would be at more narrow track.

Crew chief Chad Knaus told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang he wasn’t comfortable forcing Johnson to “hustle” to qualify a car he hadn’t practiced in.

Joey Logano completes sweep of Xfinity practices at Auto Club Speedway

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Joey Logano was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice session at Auto Club Speedway for the Service King 300.

Driving Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford, Logano put up a speed of 176.804 mph on his 19th of 35 laps in the session

The top five as made up of Erik Jones (176.744), Paul Menard (176.587), Brandon Jones (176.475) and Kyle Larson (176.039).

William Byron and Brennan Poole recorded the most laps in the session with 37 each.

Logan also had the best 10-lap average at 174.889 mph.

Click here for the full practice report.