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Logano on pole for season finale

Proving that Ambrose's form was no fluke, his Richard Petty Motorsport team mate Aric Almirola took fifth place - although he reckoned he could have done even better. "It was good, but it's one of those laps that when you're done you're just like, 'Dang it,' because you could have been that much better to get the pole.

"I think our cars are gonna be great in the race," Almirola added. "I really feel good about it. I feel like our car in race trim will be really good, so I'm just excited about it and really proud of everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports."

While Bowyer wasn't talking to anyone much about anything, Truex was admitting that he's hoped for better than seventh on the grid after pushing Logano hard at the top of the timesheets in the earlier practice session.

"It was okay. We were obviously wanting more. We were great in practice and just missed our air pressure a little bit there for the conditions with it cooling off," he explained. "When you're that good in practice you kind of talk yourselves out of changing too much. We just missed it a little bit there on the air pressure and the car didn't have enough grip and just didn't come in good enough."

Kyle Busch was similarly underwhelmed with eighth place for the start of Sunday's race: "It was alright. Just disappointed we didn't get more out of it, but that's all she wrote. Our qualifying times have been better. It sort of seems to be going our way."

And while he also admitted that he had "missed it there a little bit," the ever-present veteran of the field Mark Martin was still counting his good fortunes with another top ten qualifying spot in 2012: "I'm so blessed to get to drive these race cars. They're so good. I could've put together a little bit better lap than that."

After Johnson in tenth place there are three former Chase contenders - Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle - starting right behind, with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing's Jamie McMurray in 14th ahead of Hendrick Motorsports duo Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last week's winner at Phoenix Kevin Harvick starts from 23rd place, while reigning Cup champion Tony Stewart slumped to 35th spot in what's proved a lacklustre follow-up to his title-winning season in 2011.

Denny Hamlin had a disastrous qualifying set-up and slumped to 41st place on the grid - and only made it in on car owner points, as he would have been outside the top 43 on speed alone. Instead, the four cars that failed to make the grid for Sunday's race were Reed Sorenson, Stephen Leicht, Jason Leffler and Joe Nemecheck.

"Whoa!!! Bad miscalculation of travels in qualifying," Hamlin admitted later in a Twitter posting. "Gonna be fun passing 42 cars in the race."

Hamlin will have two practice sessions on Saturday to get the car up to scratch in race trim ahead of the final NASCAR race of 2012, which will be held at the same time that the F1 championship returns to the US at the Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas.




Related Pictures

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Marcos Ambrose, right, talks things over with Joey Logano on pit lane before qualifying at Sonoma on Friday, June 22, 2012. (Photo Credit: By Robert Laberge, Getty Images for NASCAR)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet speak with members of the media during the NASCAR Championship Contenders Press Conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Joey Logano, driver of the #20 The Home Depot Toyota, talks with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for NASCAR) (Photo Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Joey Logano, driver of the #20 Home Depot/redbeacon.com Toyota, poses after qualifying for the pole position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2012 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualified for twelfth position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. After a three-race absence, Tony Stewart has returned to the track at Atlanta. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, qualified for fourth position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. Newman is 9th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, qualified for third position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. Larson is 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, won the Pole position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. It was Harvick`s sixth pole win of the 2014 season. He is 7th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, finished fourth and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finished twelfth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and his team celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, qualified for seventh position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Busch is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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