For the 11th race this season, the Blue Deuce will start on the front row
Richmond, Va. - In NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at the Richmond International Speedway, Brad Keselowski soared to the pole with speed of126.618 miles per hour around the banked .75-mile track.
Qualifications were being held for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400, the last race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins next weekend.
It has been a great day so far. I think I have run about eight or nine races at Richmond, and this is by far the best car I have had
Driving the Miller Lite Ford, Keselowski gained his fourth pole of the season and earned his 11th front-row start in 2014.
Said the Michigan native, “It has been a great day so far. I think I have run about eight or nine races at Richmond, and this is by far the best car I have had. I feel like we have a strong shot at winning this weekend. I am very excited about that and I am excited about the pole. I would like to get that fourth win (to earn the top seed in the Chase).
Today was tough with the new tire, and it was a frustrating day too
"We have three wins and something we can hang our hat on going into the Chase. There are five guys tied for first (with three wins), and I think we are all about the same. It would be kind of neat to be the lead dog, and I think we have a shot at the win. I am still very, very hungry and am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Taking the outside front-row starting position was Jeff Gordon.
“Today was tough with the new tire, and it was a frustrating day too,” Gordon said, addressing the lengthy daytime practice runs. “I have been confused most of the day, even in qualifying. I was sliding up the track and running a groove I didn’t want to run.
"We were fast in the first round and second in the final run. Brad (Keselowski) put a great lap up there; it was incredible run. I am proud to be on the front row.”
The best of the rest
Row two qualifiers were Chevrolet drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick. Rounding out the top-12 were Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman.
Bowyer, Stenhouse, Larson and Newman have not qualified for the Chase and a win would put one of them in the field.
In the first round of knock-out qualifying, Gordon led the way at 125.927 mph with Johnson, Logano, Harvick, Stenhouse, Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Newman, Larson and Edwards falling in the speed line behind him.
Danica Patrick had a solid run to qualify 13th, missing the top-12 by just .02 hundredths of a second. Tony Stewart qualified 19t and fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 24th.
Matt Kenseth, who lacks a win but leads in the non-winner point tally, timed 16th.