LAS VEGAS — Joey Logano believes two facts are abundantly clear after he emerged from the organized chaos of NASCAR's first three-round knockout qualifying session Friday with the pole position for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The new qualifying system is a whole lot more interesting than the old one. And nobody is quite sure what they're doing yet.
"It gets crazy out there," said Logano, who earned his eighth career pole. "I think it's way cooler than old-style qualifying, don't get me wrong. It's awesome. … We're all learning right now."
The Penske Ford team has figured it out better than most. Logano set a track record with a qualifying lap of 193.28 mph on the 1½-mile track. He'll start on the front row next to teammate Brad Keselowski (193.099). The Penske drivers also swept the top two spots last week at Phoenix, in reverse order.
Fans seemed intrigued, judging by the larger-than-normal crowd for qualifying.
"That's the whole point of this," Logano said.
But drivers are understandably concerned by huge speed disparities that popped up. As some drivers went about 30 mph to cool their engines, others were ripping past at 180 mph or more. Brian Vickers called Friday's session "the most dangerous thing I've ever done in a race car."
Indianapolis 500: The race in May will have a new qualifying format with three rounds over two days, with the pole-sitter emerging from a "Fast Nine Shootout" on what used to be bump day. The fastest nine cars in qualifying on May 17 will reach the shootout; the rest will make a second run on May 18 to determine their starting position.