Brad Keselowski will start on the pole after heavy rain forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying for Sunday’s race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The track got steady rain all morning Friday and again in the early afternoon after a brief break, forcing NASCAR to scrap practice and qualifying in Las Vegas for the first time. The speedway urged fans to take cover from rain, high wind and lightning when the afternoon storm broke over the desert north of the Strip.
“I was just thinking when I walked in, with this being Vegas and all, what the odds would be of a rainout in Vegas,” Keselowski said. “I bet that was pretty high.”
Sunday’s field will be set by points and the NASCAR rule book, giving the pole to last season’s Sprint Cup series champion. The top 36 spots are set by owners’ points from last year, with the rest filled out by points or qualifying attempts.
“That’s a really good deal,” said Keselowski, the first-time champ. “It’s one of the perks, I guess, of being the champion in the first few races. This is the first time I’ve had a decent starting position in a rainout.”
Keselowski will be on the front row alongside Clint Bowyer, last season’s second-place finisher. Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson and teammate Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw will be in the second row.
Although the rain also forced the cancellation of Friday’s practice, no drivers seemed particularly concerned after going through Thursday’s open test of the new Gen-6 car.
Although Denny Hamlin’s criticism of the new car drew heavy attention and a hefty fine from NASCAR this week, most drivers think it’s too early to make any negative judgment about their speedy new rides. In fact, this weekend is the Gen-6’s first real chance to show what it’s got — and the drivers are eager to get rolling.
“I think as we learn more and more about these cars and what makes them work and drive better, things can only get better as far as the product we put out there every week,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said.
PENSKE REHIRES DRIVER
AJ Allmendinger looked and sounded like a driver getting the second chance of a lifetime.
Eight months after failing a NASCAR drug test and losing his job on Roger Penske’s Cup team, the 31-year-old California native was rehired to drive in two IndyCar races this season — including the season’s biggest race, the Indianapolis 500.
DANICA GETS STONED
Danica Patrick says she’s fine after getting hit in the head by a stray rock while attending a dirt track race in Las Vegas.