Martin Truex Jr. claims pole for Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

Martin Truex Jr. is on the pole for this Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 after laying down the fastest lap in Sprint Cup qualifying on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Truex edged Joey Logano, who was fastest in the first two rounds of the three-round knockout qualifying session but was forced to settle for starting second alongside Truex on the front row for Sunday’s race. Truex turned a top lap at 192.328 miles per hour, while Logano clocked in at 192.007 mph with his fastest lap in the final round.

Truex admitted he has been looking forward to competing in NASCAR’s longest race since finishing fifth in it last year. But he started 10th in that race — and will get to start at the very front in this one.


"I’ve been thinking about this race a lot since then," Truex admitted to FOX Sports after winning his second pole in the last three points races. "We had a really good car that night. I really thought we were going to go to Victory Lane, and we got beat on fuel mileage.

"So I’m just excited for all my guys, (sponsors) Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Boats, Furniture Row, Denver Mattress — everybody that works so hard on this deal."

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five in qualifying and will start accordingly in Sunday’s race.

Logano, Greg Biffle, Stenhouse Jr., Keselowski and Truex Jr. were the fastest in Round 2 of qualifying. Among those who did not make it out of the second round into the final round of qualifying were Kurt Busch (13th), Kyle Busch (16th) Danica Patrick (19th), Tony Stewart (21st) and Kyle Larson (24th).

Logano, Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Busch were the five fastest qualifiers in Round 1 — but of those five, only Logano and Stenhouse escaped to Round 2.

Among those who did not advance out of the first round were Dale Earnhardt Jr., who narrowly missed the cutoff and will start 25th on Sunday; and Matt Kenseth, who will roll off 27th in the 600.

"It’s frustrating," Earnhardt admitted. "We really got it better, but not good enough to get to the next round, I guess. Qualifying has been rough on us all year, and we showed up pretty far off. It’s real hard to get it dialed in there."

Earnhardt’s night went from bad to worse when NASCAR announced after post-qualifying inspection that his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team had received a fourth warning from the governing body that resulted in loss of pit-road selection for Sunday’s race. The teams of Jimmie Johnson and Aric Almirola also were penalized in the same manner after receiving their fourth warnings of the season.

For a look at Sunday’s row-by-row starting lineup after Thursday night’s qualifying session, see below: