If you’re behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, there’s a good chance you’re leaving Saturday’s single-car qualifying session happy with your starting spot.
That isn’t specific to a single organization, either, as the top-10 starters in Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 include eight Ford Mustangs, from three different organizations – Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing, and RFK Racing.
However, it was Team Penske’s three drivers that rose above the competition in the final round of qualifying Saturday, putting drivers Joey Logano, Austin Cindric, and Ryan Blaney in the top-three spots for Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400.
Logano, posting a time of 31.256 seconds (177.374mph) was able to barely edge his teammate Austin Cindric for the 28th NASCAR Cup Series pole position of his career, by a mere six-thousandths of a second.
Ryan Blaney clocked in third place, with a time less than three-hundredths of a second slower than Logano’s. Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola, fellow drivers under the Ford Performance banner, clocked in fourth and fifth.
Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher, and Chase Briscoe continued a sweep of the top-eight positions for Ford Performance, while the lone Chevrolet in the top-10, Kyle Larson, will start from ninth place.
Christopher Bell will start Sunday’s race from 10th, after his No. 20 Toyota Camry TRD got into the dirty portion of the track, swapping ends on him instantaneously in turn three. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was able to get away without any major damage.
William Byron, the winner of the last two NASCAR Cup Series events at Las Vegas and Phoenix, failed to make the final round of Saturday’s qualifying session, which will relegate him to an 11th-place start on Sunday.
There were several other heavy hitters that failed to make the final round of qualifying, including Denny Hamlin (14th), Alex Bowman (15th), Tyler Reddick (16th), Kyle Busch (17th), Ross Chastain (18th), Josh Berry (21st), Daniel Suarez (25th), and Martin Truex, Jr. (29th).
Ty Gibbs (#54) and BJ McLeod (#78) will start from the final row in Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400, after both drivers ran into various issues while trying to generate speed on the outside lane.
Gibbs made slight contact with the outside wall in turn four during his qualifying lap, while McLeod spun his Live Fast Motorsports entry to the inside of the track, but was able to avoid major damage.