Joey Logano on pole position at Martinsville; Martin Truex Jr. second; Jimmie Johnson spins


MARTINSVILLE, Virginia — Joey Logano captured his fourth pole position at Martinsville Speedway, stealing the spotlight from NASCAR’s playoff drivers as the Round of 8 opens Sunday afternoon.

The Team Penske driver turned a 95.504-mph lap in his No. 22 Ford, besting Martin Truex Jr. (96.479), who will have the coveted No. 1 pit stall by virtue of qualifying first at Kansas Speedway last week.

Chase Elliott was third at 96.435 mph, followed by Ryan Blaney (96.122) and Clint Bowyer (96.112).

Other playoff drivers who made the final round: Denny Hamlin (sixth) and Brad Keselowski (seventh).

“I think the last time we were here Truex got us be a few thousandths, so it’s cool to flip-flop that again,” Logano told NBCSN. “We have a good Shell/Pennzoil Ford that the team put together for me this weekend.  I’ve got something to race with this week.  I’m really excited about the race and starting up front is always a big deal here.  We may not get the good pit stall that we would want, but starting towards the front is always a nice thing to have.  You can set your own pace and kind of take care of your car.  When you start in the back it starts beating up on your car, which at some point you may end up back there with strategy, but I feel good about the car we’ve got this week and it’s something we can race with.”

Making the final round was a plus for Blaney, who had the worst pit stall selection after failing qualifying inspection at Kansas.

How other playoff drivers fared:

Kevin Harvick qualified 13th after being bumped from advancement by Erik Jones in the final seconds of the second round.

Kyle Busch was 14th.

Jimmie Johnson qualified 24th after spinning when his No. 48 Chevrolet wheel-hopped on the entry to Turn 3 with three minutes left in the second round. The seven-time series champion managed to avoid damaging his car. Johnson will start from the rear.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 21st in his final start at Martinsville.

Hamlin barely escaped the first round of qualifying, turning the 24th-fastest speed at 95.830 mph. Blaney turned a solid lap late to ensure advancement to the final 24.

Earnhardt also catapulted from outside the top 25 with a fast lap in the closing minutes of the first round.

Among the notables eliminated in the first round were Austin Dillon (25th), AJ Allmendinger (27th), Landon Cassill (31st), David Ragan (33rd) and Travor Bayne (34th).

Click here for qualifying results.