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NASCAR meets with Kyle Busch, Joey Logano at Phoenix

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NASCAR officials met with Kyle Busch and Joey Logano before Friday’s Cup practice session at Phoenix Raceway to discuss last weekend’s last-lap incident and post-race altercation at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The meeting lasted about 15 minutes.

Afterward, Busch answered every media question by saying: “Everything is great. Really looking forward to getting back into my car and being here in Phoenix” or some form of that statement.

Logano had more to say afterward.

“Just tried to explain that, hey, I made a mistake underneath him,” Logano said. “That’s basically what it was. He asked for some data, and I was able to show him that. That’s that and we’ll move on and we’ll start practicing in a little bit.”

Asked if he felt Busch had a better understanding of Logano’s side after seeing the data, Logano said: “I hope so. You never know, Hope so. Hope he was able to see that and I was sincere about that. Time will tell.”

Asked if he felt things were good with Busch, Logano said: “I guess time will tell. We’ll see. The only thing I could do in this case was plead my case and say that it was an honest mistake, it was hard racing at the end.”

Fox Sports 1 broadcast both driver sessions with the media after their meeting.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told Fox Sports 1 after the meeting: “It’s always our job to bring them face-to-face vs. texting to hear where drivers really stand. The ultimate goal for us is to make them clear of our expectations moving forward.”

Asked what those expectations are, O’Donnell told FS1: “In terms of on-track, they’re very clear on something that is an intentional act, we’re going to react to, we don’t want to have to do that. Do we think they’re best friends? No, but, again, that’s not what this sport is built on. Those are two guys that we really need out there racing hard for position.”

NASCAR did not penalize either driver for their actions at Las Vegas but stated that they would speak to both drivers before either got back on track.

Logano and Busch were racing for fourth on the backstretch on the final lap last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Busch came down the track and hit Logano’s car to squeeze between Logano and Brad Keselowski‘s car. Busch’s action caused Logano to enter Turn 3 at a lower entry. That led to contact, which Logano broke down on Fox Sports 1’s “Race Hub” on Tuesday night

After the race, Busch walked up pit road and approached Logano. Busch immediately threw a punch but Logano said he wasn’t hit. Logano went after Busch, but was pulled away from the scene as crew members from both teams swarmed. A NASCAR security official pulled Busch, who had blood coming out of a cut on his forehead, out of the scrum.

Logano said on FS1’s “Race Hub” that he called Busch on Tuesday.

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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.