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Logano earns qualifying hat trick

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Joey Logano won the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway on Friday.

It is the third consecutive pole for Logano on the smallest and oldest track in the premier series. He's the first driver to do that on the 0.526-mile oval since Jeff Gordon won three in a row in 2003-04.

Logano, the fastest in all three rounds of qualifying, barely edged Kasey Kahne with a speed of 97.043 mph. Kahne's best lap was at 97.033. Logano ran five laps in the last session, Kahne just three.

"We don't have one of those trophies yet," Logano said in the infield media center, pointing at the grandfather clock awarded to the winner of Sunday's STP 500. "We've figured out the qualifying part really well."

The last time the series visited Martinsville, Logano had perhaps his best chance to win, but a feud with Matt Kenseth boiled over and Kenseth took out Logano while he was leading the race with 46 laps remaining. The action earned Kenseth a two-race suspension, one of the stiffest in NASCAR history.

Earnhardt donation: Dale Earnhardt Jr. confirmed that he will donate his brain for concussion research when he dies, something he mentioned over the weekend on Twitter.

"Anything I can do to help others," said Earnhardt, who has suffered at least two concussions during his racing career. "It seemed like a reasonable thing to do."

Earnhardt, 41, said he has pledged his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which works in concert with Boston University's Brain Bank.

Earnhardt said he was inspired after learning of former U.S. women's soccer star Brandi Chastain's recent announcement that she will donate her brain, as well as three former Oakland Raiders who will do the same in honor of Ken Stabler, a former Raiders quarterback who died in 2015. Stabler was later diagnosed with Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.

Earnhardt said his experience in 2012, when he suffered two concussions, helped him truly appreciate the value of understanding the science behind brain injuries.

After the second concussion, which came as a result of a wreck during a race at Talladega, he sat out two races.

IndyCar: Helio Castroneves had the fastest qualifying lap during a day of records as the series returned to Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. Castroneves had the final of six track-record runs on the mile oval, turning a lap at 192.324 mph to break Arie Luyendyk's 20-year old mark. Tony Kanaan will also start on the front row in tonight's Phoenix Grand Prix and Juan Pablo Montoya, who won the opener in St. Petersburg, qualified third. Carlos Munoz suffered minor injuries to his knees but was expected to start tonight after losing control of his car and hitting the wall in Turn 1 during qualifying. … Andretti Autosport will run a fifth car in the Indianapolis 500, the No. 29 Honda, with Townsend Bell driving. He will join Munoz, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Alexander Rossi on the team.

NHRA: Steve Torrence led the first day of Top Fuel qualifying at the Denso Spark Plugs Nationals in Las Vegas with a run of 3.728 seconds at 326.48 mph. Jack Beckman led Funny Car and Jason Line topped Pro Stock.

Logano earns qualifying hat trick 04/01/16 [Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2016 11:01pm]
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