Keselowski will start from the pole
Brad Keselowski will start Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 in an unfamiliar position, but he is hoping for a familiar result.
Keselowski, who won this race in 2012, will start from the pole after posting a track-record qualifying lap of 188.791 mph during Friday’s knockout qualifying session at Kentucky Speedway.
The pole is the sixth of Keselowski’s Sprint Cup career, third of the season and first at Kentucky.
“We’re right where we want to be – starting first. Now, we just need to execute the race,” Keselowski said. “This is huge boost for us.”
Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano, will start second, series points leader Jeff Gordon third, Denny Hamlin fourth and Kevin Harvick will start fifth.
In his previous series start this season, Wallace qualified third at Talladega, Ala., but got caught up in accident.
“Superspeedways haven’t shown the best results for me so far,” he said, “but every time I’ve competed we have been super-fast and I know this time will be no different.”
Johnson was nominated for best championship performance after winning his sixth Cup series title last season. Johnson and Earnhardt were nominated in the best driver category, which also includes IndyCar series drivers Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay and NHRA Funny Car driver John Force.
• A lot is being made of the fact the Cup series race at Kentucky will have less than a 43-car car field for the first time since 2001. But in terms of quality vs. quantity, there isn’t much difference at all. I fail to see why it is so important Saturday night’s field won’t have a 43rd car entered that will likely not complete the race or may even start-and-park. Either option adds nothing to the quality of racing for fans at the track or watching on TV. I would much rather see smaller fields of more competitive cars than larger fields with only half the cars able to contend for the win.
• Earlier this week at a ceremony at the White House honoring his sixth Cup series championship, Jimmie Johnson was referred to by President Obama as “the Michael Jordan of NASCAR.” That’s probably as good an analogy as there is. Not only was Jordan one of the NBA’s best athletes, but he also amassed six championships and was an excellent ambassador of the sport. Johnson, whose career is far from over, has made as significant an impact in NASCAR.
• Kentucky Speedway has embraced its role as the “roughest track in NASCAR.” That’s all well and good – rough tracks tend to produce better racing. However, it may need a backup moniker should it be forced one day to repave.
Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson