By Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
- Keselowski’s 1st NNS pole in 2011
- Pit selection key for Keselowski
- Harvick, Logano start 2nd & 3rd
Keselowski, Harvick start on front row at New Hampshire International Speedway
With a lap time of 29.438 seconds at an average speed of 129.384 mph in the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge, Brad Keselowski claimed the pole for the New England 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday. Kevin Harvick will start his No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet alongside Keselowski on the front row after posting a qualifying time of 29.522 seconds.
More importantly than anything is pit selection.
“Our cars are pretty equal,” Keselowski said of his No. 22 and Harvick’s No. 33.
Joey Logano will start his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the second row from the third position after a running a 29.549-second lap in qualifying. Logano will be joined on the second row by Aric Almirola in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, who will start fourth after posting a lap time of 29.711 seconds.
After a qualifying lap of 29.724 seconds in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Kyle Busch will start fifth.
Although Keselowski posted his fastest time on his second lap, that lap wasn’t exactly flawless. He scraped the wall slightly coming to the checkered flag of his qualifying run.
“That just means we’re going for all of it,” Keselowski said right after making his run.
Keselowski was one of 14 drivers to claim the provision pole throughout the morning before he was awarded the actual top starting spot at the conclusion of qualifying. Even so, he still had to watch several cars make qualifying runs after he made his before he could breathe easy and be sure that he would be on the pole come Saturday afternoon.
After making his qualifying attempt, Keselowski said that we wasn’t going to “count his chickens before they hatched,” even though he felt good about his fast lap.
The lap held up for top starting spot for the driver of the No. 22 car, as Reed Sorenson, the last driver out in qualifying in the No. 32 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet, was only sixth-fastest with a lap time 29.725 seconds.
The pole is the first in NNS competition for Keselowski in 2011. According to Keselowski, a pole in the Nationwide race at New Hampshire is important because of the short length of the race.
“More importantly than anything is pit selection,” Keselowski said.
According to him, that pit selection will enable him to keep good track position throughout the race.
Forty-two cars made qualifying attempts on Saturday morning. All cars entered will race in the New England 200 on Saturday afternoon, and the starting grid will be one car short of a full field.