Brad Keselowski earns Texas pole
Brad Keselowski was a speed demon during time trials for the AAA Texas on Friday.
Keselowski led all three rounds of qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway — but it was his final — and money lap of 196.929 mph (27.421-sec.) that earned the Team Penske driver the pole for Sunday’s race.
When Keselowski was informed of the times set by his teammate Joey Logano (27.633-sec.) and Erik Jones (27.650-sec.), the driver of the Blue Deuce told his team, “It ain’t over yet.”
“This is a good start but our ultimate goal is to be the fastest at the end of the race on Sunday,” said Keselowski, who earned his third pole of the season and his 11th career Cup pole overall.
“It is a good start and it gets us up front with a great pit stall and hopefully we can make the most of it.
“I am pumped about this race. Track position is important everywhere and here isn’t as much as maybe a few others because the track wears out and you see some comers and goers with the way the track wears out but we will still take it.”
The last time Keselowski earned the pole was at Kansas Speedway three races ago. However, due to NASCAR penalizing the No. 2 Miller Ford due to inspection infractions, he forfeited the ability to choose the first pit stall.
Second-place Kevin Harvick (195.993 mph) matched his career-best qualifying effort at Texas Motor Speedway. Although Harvick has never won at the 1.5-mile track, he’s finished second in his last two starts.
"I think that shows a lot about what our racecar is going to be like in race trim and just how consistent it was throughout the speed on each round," Harvick said. "Our Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team did a great job in keeping up with the changes that we needed throughout the three rounds and we were able to keep it pretty consistent.”
Kyle Busch (195.716 mph) and Joey Logano (195.419 mph) will roll off from the third row followed by Kyle Larson (195.341 mph) and Erik Jones (195.298 mph), who is making his debut at the track.
Rows 4 through 6 will include Kurt Busch (194.988 mph), Jimmie Johnson (194.890 mph), Denny Hamlin (194.665 mph), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (194.475 mph), Danica Patrick (193.313 mph) and Greg Biffle (190.402 mph). For Patrick, it was her best qualifying effort of 2015.
Brad Keselowski 197.455 mph (27.348-seconds) narrowly out ran his Penske teammate Joey Logano (197.671 mph) in the second round.
Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick (196.542 mph) and Kurt Busch (196.150 mph) posted the third and fourth fastest laps followed by Kyle Busch (196.078 mph), Jimmie Johnson (195.858 mph), Denny Hamlin (195.702 mph) and Kyle Larson 195.645. Erik Jones, filling in for Matt Kenseth, posted a lap of 195.560 mph in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Despite struggling with balance issues, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 10th quick with a lap of 195.440 mph.
“I didn’t move the track bar because I didn’t think I needed to,” Earnhardt told his crew chief Greg Ives. “It felt so weird — completely different. Like I was in the middle of the car.”
Greg Biffle (195.426 mph) and Danica Patrick (195.369 mph) were the last two drivers to transfer to the final round.
Chasers Carl Edwards (195.341 mph, 13th), Jeff Gordon (194.637 mph) and Martin Truex Jr. (194.000 mph, 23rd) failed to transfer to the final round.
“I don’t know what we’re missing, but we’re missing something,” said Jeff Gordon, who will start 18th in his final Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Team Penske also lit up the top of the pylon in the first session with Brad Keselowski besting his teammate with a lap of 198.282 mph (27.234-seconds).
Joey Logano was a mere 0.141 seconds behind. Tony Stewart matched Logano’s lap of 197.260 mph, but was third on a tie-break.
Kurt Busch (197.246 mph), Kyle Busch (197.116 mph), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (197.087 mph), Denny Hamlin (196.986 mph), Clint Bowyer (196.951 mph), Kyle Larson (196.951 mph) and Ryan Newman (196.853 mph) rounded out the top 10 speeds.
Other Chasers moving to the second round included Kevin Harvick (15th), Jeff Gordon (17th), Carl Edwards (21st) and Martin Truex Jr. (23rd).
Joey Gase and Reed Sorenson failed to qualify for the AAA Texas 500.
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