Logano wins fifth pole of season at Richmond

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Jay Busbee
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Joey Logano, right, fist-bumps a crew member after qualifying on the pole for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va., Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Joey Logano, right, fist-bumps a crew member after qualifying on the pole for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va., Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va.— In a race that will force several underperforming drivers to step up or see their championship hopes end, leave it to one of the year's most reliable drivers to set the tone.

Joey Logano won his fifth pole of the season, taking the lead away from Matt Kenseth to start at the very front of the field for Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 500. Logano's 126.470 mph was good enough to lead the field, and will put Logano in an early strong position in the regular season's final race.

Logano has won two of the season's last four races, and is the only non-Joe Gibbs Racing driver to have won a race in the last eight. He's setting up as one of the favorites for the championship once again, alongside Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch, among others.

Several drivers must win in order to get into the Chase, which starts next week. David Ragan led that crew with a fifth-place run, while Tony Stewart will start 10th. Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr., among others, did not make it out of the first round of qualifying, and will start in the back half of the field. Timmy Hill and Josh Wise did not qualify for the race.

Rain threatens the Richmond race on Saturday night, but it is scheduled for a 7:30 ET green flag start.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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