NSCS: Three Perfect Rounds; Keselowski Rockets to Pole for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500

Kyle Magda Featured, MidSouth, NASCAR 0 Comments

FORT WORTH, Tex. — Report by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda — Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images North America photo —

With temperatures going down Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway, the speeds picked up.

One thing didn’t change at the top of the scoring pylon; the No. 2 was still No. 1.

2012 Cup champ Brad Keselowski swept all three rounds of Coors Light Pole Qualifying to start first for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. Keselowski ran laps faster than 27.5 seconds in each round until settling on a speed of 196.929 mph in round three for his first pole at the 1.5-mile track.

“I was all over the track the last run, the tires started to wear out,” Keselowski told NBC Sports Network. “The Ford Fusion has been really good since we’ve unloaded. Very similar to where we were at Kansas, really fast in practice and qualifying. We just need it to stay with us for the race and we didn’t get that in Kansas, so got a lot of work to do tomorrow and we get the first stall and get to keep it this time.”

He won the pole at Kansas, but had to give up pit selection after the team received a fourth written warning in NASCAR, resulting in loss of choosing the first pit stall. Last week, Keselowski battled second with suspended Matt Kenseth on lap 435 before the the two made contact as the tire rod broke on the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford to break out in a three-car crash.

“Martinsville wasn’t just frustrating for me, but for a lot of people,” Keselowski said. “A part on the car broke and that stuff happens. We got to get through it and we can’t look back. We got to look at the next two weeks and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Starting alongside Keselowski’s Ford Sunday is defending Cup champ Kevin Harvick, who finished runner-up in the spring Texas race. Harvick ran a lap a tenth off of Keselowski’s pole-winning lap, but was good enough to qualify second for the fastest Chevrolet during the session.

“The first round I didn’t feel like we had the raw speed that a lot of the guys had, but I think that shows a lot about where our race car is going to be like in race-trim, just how consistent it was in each round.”

The two Penske Racing cars were 1-2 in the first two rounds until Joey Logano turned the fourth-fastest lap in the final round. Both Harvick and Kyle Busch broke up  the Penske party at the front, as the top-four qualifiers were all Chase drivers. Busch was the quickest Toyota (third) in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry. Logano is eighth in points after being taken out by Kenseth in the closing laps of last Sunday’s race at Martinsville.

“We were wide-open, I just felt like maybe I scrubbed a little bit too much speed off the corners off of [Turn] 2,” Logano said of his final qualifying run. “As the grip goes away in the tires, it’s harder to hold it wide-open.”

Kyle Larson qualified fifth in the No. 42 Chevrolet as the fastest non-Chaser in the final round. Camping World Truck Series points leader Erik Jones was sixth quick, subbing in for 2003 champ Kenseth. Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top-10.

Five of the eight Chasers made round three of qualifying, but not among those were Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr. Edwards turned the third-quickest lap in practice earlier Friday, but the speed didn’t stay in the No. 19 SportClips Toyota for qualifying.

“Just a little bit loose, that car is fast though,” Edwards said. “I thought it would come to me in the second run and it didn’t. That’s how this goes with these changing conditions and the competition the way it is. You got to get every last little thing.”

Gordon won last week at Martinsville to punch his ticket into the championship round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He will compete for a championship in his final Cup race until hanging it up after 23 years. The four-time champ improved on his spring qualifying result and starts 18th in Sunday’s race.

“We’re just lacking speed, it’s ridiculous how much faster it is this time around than earlier in the year,” Gordon said.  “That first time out, I was wide open and we were still a few tenths off. We’re looking into that. Felt really good about some race runs we had today.”

Joey Gase and Reed Sorenson were the only drivers who failed to make the race.

The next time the Sprint Cup cars take to the track is for practice Saturday morning at 11 a.m. ET and can be seen live on NBC Sports Network.

RESULTS: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying; Texas Motor Speedway; November 6, 2015:

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Kyle Larson
  6. Erik Jones
  7. Kurt Busch
  8. Jimmie Johnson
  9. Denny Hamlin
  10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  11. Danica Patrick
  12. Greg Biffle
  13. Carl Edwards
  14. Clint Bowyer
  15. David Ragan
  16. Kasey Kahne
  17. Casey Mears
  18. Jeff Gordon
  19. Ryan Newman
  20. Paul Menard
  21. Brian Scott
  22. Tony Stewart
  23. Martin Truex Jr.
  24. Aric Almirola
  25. Ryan Blaney
  26. Austin Dillon
  27. Jamie McMurray
  28. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  29. Trevor Bayne
  30. A.J. Allmendinger
  31. Alex Bowman
  32. Sam Hornish Jr.
  33. Michael McDowell
  34. J.J. Yeley
  35. Brett Moffitt
  36. Landon Cassill
  37. Michael Annett
  38. Matt DiBenedetto
  39. Cole Whitt
  40. Jeb Burton
  41. David Gilliland
  42. Ryan Preece
  43. Justin Allgaier

DNQ: Joey Gase, Reed Sorenson

 

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