Penske sweeps pole at Chicago

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Penske Racing swept the front row in qualifying for the first race of the Chase, with Joey Logano winning the pole hours after NASCAR placed his team on probation for allegedly cutting a deal with another organization to help him make the championship field.

Logano turned a lap at 189.414 mph around Chicagoland Speedway on Friday to bump teammate and defending NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski. Keselowski did not qualify for the Chase but Logano did make it in at Richmond, where he was aided by at least three other drivers last Saturday night.

Logano, who beat Jimmie Johnson’s 2005 track record of 188.146 mph, said he never thought he’d be kicked out of the Chase despite the vitriol he was seeing on social media.

“There wasn’t any worry in my mind that we weren’t going to be in the Chase. I felt like we deserved to be here,” Logano said. “I realize there are a lot of people on Twitter that are really mean. I’ve read enough of it, and I thought, ‘Wow, this Joey Logano guy’s a real jerk.’ Then I realized, ‘You know, maybe I’m not.’

“Hopefully this helps prove them all wrong, that we deserve to be here, because this team has got what it takes and we’ve proven that all year long. I guess we have to do that for 10 more races and prove them wrong a little bit more.”

The Chase begins Sunday at Chicagoland, where NASCAR will have a 13-driver championship field for the first time since the title-deciding format began in 2004.

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