FORT WORTH, Tex.– It’s a tie! The cool and cloudy skies above the Texas Motor Speedway Saturday afternoon played to the benefit of Brad Keselowski, as he won his 20th career Coors Light Pole Award in the XFINITY Series in grand fashion, as he and Erik Jones locked in a dead tie for top spot, ahead of the Saturday’s 300 mile, O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge (3 pm ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM).
For Keselowski, the driver of the No.22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang for Team Penske, this is his first pole of 2016 and the first pole for the No.22 team on an oval this season. Landing a time of 28.891 (186.909 mph), he tied Erik Jones’ fast lap with less than one minute remaining in the final round of qualifying. The pole goes to Keselowski because the No.22 has more owners points than the No.20 team.
Keselowski, a two-time winner at TMS spoke about the rarity of tying for the pole.
“A tiebreaker, how often do you see that in NASCAR?” Keselowski said. “It’s one of those rare things, this is why you have to watch because something weird and strange happens every week in NASCAR.”
The struggles have been evident as the No.22 team has yet to visit victory lane in 2016, but Keselowski feels like that will all change this weekend.
“We haven’t been as fast as we want to be this year and this is our first pole on an oval this season. I think we are starting to turn that around and we are really encouraged for today’s race.”
As for the aforementioned Jones, an eight time pole sitter and four time winner this season, he led the way in all three qualifying sessions until the last 30 seconds of the final round. The Chase contender will start alongside Keselowski on the front row, as he looking for his second win at Texas and an opportunity to advance to Homestead-Miami to be part of the Championship 4.
Lining up behind Jones are his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates of fellow Chase driver,two time winner, Daniel Suarez and Matt Tifft,who announced on Friday he will run a full season next year with JGR in the Xfinity Series. Rounding out the top five is Pocono winner, Kyle Larson.
Other drivers who had strong runs in the qualifying session include, teammates of Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler who both advanced to the third round and will start sixth and eight, respectively.
After a rocky start to the weekend, seeing Blake Koch hit the wall in the early moment of practice on Friday and being forced to a backup car, his No.11 team have rebounded well, starting 12th for the event.
For other the other Chase drivers of Ryan Reed, Brendan Gaughan and Darrell Wallace Jr., they will start their race marred back in traffic as all three failed to advance to the final round of qualifying. The three will start 13th, 16th and 18th, respectively.