SPARTA, Ky. – official release — Christian Petersen/Getty Images photo — Brad Keselowski scored his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of the season Friday at Kentucky Speedway, setting a track record in the process.
Keselowski’s reset the Kentucky record books by circling the 1.5-mile oval in 28.603 seconds at 188.791 mph to give him the pole for Saturday’s Quaker State 400. He’ll share the front row with his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano, the third time this year the two have shared the front row for a Sprint Cup race.
The Michigan native said he was certain that an incoming rain storm would end qualifying early, but thankfully for him that wasn’t the case.
“I’m just thankful it didn’t rain and we got all three runs,” Keselowski said. “If you looked at the radar before qualifying, there was no way it wasn’t going to rain.”
Jeff Gordon qualified third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. The remainder of the fast 12 qualifiers were Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard.
Logano had the fastest times in the first two session of knockout qualifying. He circled Kentucky Speedway in 29.049 seconds in the first session and backed that up by getting around the track in 27.783 seconds in the second session.
Surprisingly, both Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. failed to advance out of the first round of knockout qualifying. Johnson will start 25th Saturday night while Earnhardt will start 29th.
Only 42 cars attempted to qualify for Saturday’s race, making the Quaker State 400 the first event since 2001 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race did not have a full 43-car field.