Brad Keselowski heads Penske 1-2 in Pocono qualifying

It’s a Team Penske front row for the AXALTA 400 at Pocono Raceway.

Brad Keselowski heads Penske 1-2 in Pocono qualifying

After a slight delay due to rain, Keselowski won the pole with a lap of 181.726 mph (49.525-seconds). 

“It’s really cool for Team Penske to be on the front row one and two,” Keselowski said. 

"That is really hard to do, I can tell you that. We had great speed obviously today. I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the rain and all the other variables that were kind of thrown at us with low practice. We thought we would be okay and quite honestly we tested here and we weren’t very good and we were just kind of not really sure what to expect.

"We got that half a lap of practice in and we weren’t all that good there either but for some reason here in the qualifying session the team put things together and worked on it and found some speed and dialed on it each round and we got faster each round. That is why we are up here today. It was a team effort. I am really proud of the group with the Miller Lite Ford running up front and getting the pole is great but we want to be up there on Sunday as well. We will enjoy this moment and then get back to work and try to make it stay up there Sunday.”

Logano was the first car on the track and set the pace of 181.400 mph (49.614-sec.) but eight cars later, Keselowski knocked his fellow Ford off the top spot for his first pole of the season as well as at the Tricky Triangle.

“Very similar to last week were we came in second the first two rounds,” said Logano, who has transferred to the final round of qualifying in 10 of 14 time trials this season.

"We were so close. The last two weeks we have been the fastest car in the first two rounds and given it up in the third. You want to get those poles. The pole means a lot and it is cool to rack up that stat but overall both Team Penske Fusions are up front and that says a lot about where our organization is right now. Man I just wanted to get the pole. It stings but it’s cool we are up front.”

Matt Kenseth (49.637), Kevin Harvick (49.671), Carl Edwards (49.790) and Tony Stewart (49.844) will complete the first three rows. 

For Stewart, it was his best qualifying effort of the 2016 season — and the first time he transferred into the final round of time trials. 

Jimmie Johnson (49.987), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (50.110), Kurt Busch (50.147), Denny Hamlin (50.153), Kasey Kahne (50.296) and Kyle Busch (50.328) rounded out the top 12 on Friday

This was Earnhardt Jr. first time advancing in knock out qualifying. 

That was a good job,” Earnhardt said. “I’ve missed qualifying a little bit (this year).”

Round 2

Joey Logano led the 24 drivers to the track during the second round of time trials — and held the top time of 49.702 (181.079 mph). 

Kurt Busch was second quick (49.768) followed by Brad Keselowski (49.776), Kyle Busch (49.829), Jimmie Johnson (49.851) and Kevin Harvick (49.864). 

Tony Stewart (49.875), Matt Kenseth (49.914), Carl Edwards (49.957), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (50.042), Denny Hamlin (50.102) and Kasey Kahne (50.132) advanced to the final round.

Round 1

Tony Stewart was the first car on the track but Kevin Harvick set the early pace with a lap of 179.712 mph — only to be bumped by Joey Logano’s lap of 180.281 mph (49.922). 

Carl Edwards, who posted the fastest lap during a rain-shortened practice, was second  with a lap of 179.899 mph (50.028) followed by Brad Keselowski (50.073), Harvick (50.080), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (50.116), Ryan Blaney (50.173), Greg Biffle (50.196), Martin Truex Jr. (50.198), Jimmie Johnson (50.228), Kurt Busch (50.380) and Kyle Busch (50.380) rounded out the top 12. 

Trevor Bayne, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer, Stewart, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, Chris Buescher and Austin Dillon transferred to the second round.

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