It started out being sunglasses weather Saturday morning at Auto Club Speedway for NASCAR Nationwide Series Qualifying. It was flag waving breezy with clouds surrounding the track, especially grey ugly ones hovering over the mountains. But for the beginning of Qualifying, it was bright, sunny, and a chilly 52 degrees F at the track. The air was fresh and clean thanks to Friday night’s rain, but the track was dry. At the end of the session with 49 cars vying for 43 slots, the clouds had rolled back in.

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, JOEY LOGANO/No.20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, has the pole for Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Stater Bros. 300 Race. His lap was 30.717/181.283 mph. The Qualifying Track Record on the two-mile super speedway of 38.722 sec/185.941 mph is held by TONY STEWART in a Chevrolet set in February 2005.

This is Logano’s eighth NNS pole in 43 starts, and his second in four races at the Southern California race track.

Logano won last year’s fall race from the pole at Auto Club Speedway, as a Nationwide driver. The previous winners going back seven or more years have been Sprint Cup drivers.

Starting second through fifth: KYLE BUSCH/No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota; Rookie BRIAN SCOTT/No.11 Braun Racing Toyota; CARL EDWARDS/No.60 Roush-Fenway Ford; and GREG BIFFLE/No.27 Baker Curb Ford – a Go or Go Home driver in the NNS.

Besides Scott, there are four other declared Rookies in the race: JAMES BUESCHER/No.9 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet-ninth; COLIN BRAUN/No.16 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford-eighteenth; RICKY STENHOUSE Jr/No.6 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford-twenty-sixth; and PARKER KLIGERMAN/No.42 Smith-Penske Racing  Dodge.

DANICA PATRICK/No.7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet will start thirty-sixth, right ahead of another road racer, MICHAEL McDOWELL/No.81 McDonald Motorsports Dodge.

Five drivers got into the race based on Owner Points: JOSH WISE/No.61 Specialty Racing Ford; KENNY WALLACE/No.28 Jay Robinson Racing Chevrolet; ROBERT RICHARDSON Jr/No.23 Richardson Racing Chevrolet; BRIAN KESELOWSKI/No.26 K-Automotive Dodge; and MIKE BLISS/No.40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet.

Those drivers who failed to qualify were: MORGAN SHEPHERD/No.89 Faith In Jesus Racing/Faith Motorsports Chevrolet ; DANNY O’QUINN/No.90 D’Hondt Humphrey Motorsports Chevrolet; STEPHEN LEICHT/No.91 D’Hondt Humphrey Motorsports; JOHNNY CHAPMAN/No.92 Dodge; ANDY POINSETTIA/No.02 Stott Racing Chevrolet; and JEREMY CLEMENTS/No.04 Johnny Clements Racing Chevrolet, who spun out during his lap. Clements rear-ended the wall, damaging the rear of the car. What wasn’t damaged was the sponsor logo, Boudreaux Butt Paste.

All the various Auto Club Speedway Nationwide Series records, i.e. most wins, most poles, most top fives and tens, are held by Sprint Cup drivers.

Manufacturer wise, Chevrolet has the most entries in the field; fifteen will start and five will not. Toyota will start all of its eleven drivers, as will Ford with ten. Dodge had seven drivers qualify and one DNQ.

Kate Walsh   Photo by Lynne Huntting
Kate Walsh Photo by Lynne Huntting

KATE WALSH, the Honorary Race Official – Starter for the Nationwide race stopped by the Media Center. Among other questions she fielded concerned her being type-cast as the wife of PATRICK DEMPSEY – she doesn’t think she should play the wife of the race driver character Dempsey will portray in his upcoming movie, “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” She and Dempsey talked about racing a lot on the set of Gray’s Anatomy, and he talked her into buying a vintage Aston Martin. Walsh said she and her boyfriend watch NASCAR, and the actress went through the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Daytona when she was working on the Drew Carey show. DAVE TALLEY, Auto Club Speedway Director of Communications diplomatically advised her that the Petty Experience was also available at his track.