NNS cars pre-gridJOEY LOGANO/No.18 Toyota edged KYLE BUSCH/NO.54 Toyota from the pole position for Saturday afternoon’s 14th Annual Great Clips 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. Both drivers ran late in the 45-driver session. Again, weather was a factor. The earlier warm and sunny weather segued into sunny but not so warm weather.

Friday night it rained, so the newly repaved PIR track was ‘green.’ However none of the teams seemed much concerned. The KN&N Pro Series – West had its morning qualifying session, followed by the Sprint Cup practice. This left enough rubber on the track for grip. The three top-tier NASCAR series run the same Goodyear radial tire, while the KN&N Series cars run a Goodyear bias ply.

Logano’s lap was 27.145 seconds/132.621 This was his twenty-second pole position and sixth this season, in 109 career starts. Logano is a Cup crossover driver and won’t be earning any points for the NNS race.

Second through fifth NNS qualifiers were Busch; Top Rookie AUSTIN DILLON/No.3 Chevrolet; SAM HORNISH Jr/No.12 Dodge; and BRIAN VICKERS/No.20 Toyota, who had to qualify based on time.

Elliott Sadler
Elliott Sadler

Points leaders, ELLIOT SADLER/No. and RICKY STENHOUSE Jr, qualified sixteenth and eighth, respectively. Sadler will have even further to go to play catchup, as he crashed his primary car and is driving his backup car, which relegates him to the back of the pack.

Two of the 45 drivers did not make the starting grid: Rookie JOEY GASE/No.52 Chevrolet and CARL LONG/No.75 Ford. The absolute slowest NNS driver overall all weekend, NUR AL/No.70 Chevrolet, made the field by way of Owner Points. The Pakistani driver wanted to run the Cup race, but was not allowed by NASCAR due to lack of experience. Probably a wise decision. Ali’s NNS qualifying time was five+ seconds slower than the next slowest car. The three cars making the field on Owner’s Points were the three of the four slowest in qualifying. The two drivers who were sent home were thirty-ninth and fortieth fastest in the session.

As this is being written, the clouds are moving in and the wind has picked up to gusty.

Stay tuned.