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After three days of practice and testing on the new, faster surface at Pocono Raceway, Sprint Cup drivers called Saturday’s qualifying session for the Pocono 400 one of the biggest challenges of the season.

“It was mentally tough to come out on this fast track and run a perfect lap,” Carl Edwards said.


Not for Joey Logano, who won his fourth career pole and was one of 36 drivers to break the track qualifying record on the new surface.

In what Paul Menard called “the important qualifying session of the year,” Logano turned a lap of 179.598 mph. Edwards was second at 178.866 and Menard was third.

The pole was Logano’s first of the season and his second at Pocono. He has one career victory and has struggled this season, sitting 16th in points after 13 races.

Logano participated in a tire test here recently and then got a handle on his car during three days of practice on the new surface.

“My guys did a good job focusing on getting the car handling right,” said Logano, who has two straight top-10 finishes. “My car is fast in qualifying trim and in race trim, so I’m really excited.”

Edwards said Logano’s lap was impressive because he also led the final practice session on Friday before Saturday morning’s time trials.

“It was very difficult to run a fast lap yesterday and then go through the night and think about everything and come back a day later, in difficult conditions, and back that time up,” Edwards said.

All three Joe Gibbs Racing cars qualified in the top 10. Logano teammate Denny Hamlin has four career victories at Pocono.

Rounding out the top 10 for Sunday’s race are Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Mark Martin, Regan Smith, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Marcos Ambrose and Kasey Kahne.

Points leader Greg Biffle qualified 13th, and Jimmie Johnson, who has won two of the past three points races, was 24th.

Jeff Gordon, who won this race last year and has a series-high five wins at Pocono, qualified 12th. Brad Keselowski, who won here in July, was 31st.

David Stremme was the only driver who failed to qualify.

Sunday’s race is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.





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