Keselowski Fastest in Kentucky
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on June 27, 2014 | 6:38 P.M. EST
Team Penske dominated each of the three knockout qualifying sessions that ended with Brad Keselowski shattering the Kentucky Speedway track record with a fast lap of 188.791 mph. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
SPARTA, Ky. - Team Penske dominated each of the three knockout qualifying sessions for the Quaker State 400 that ended with Brad Keselowski crushing the Kentucky Speedway track record with a fast lap of 188.791 mph.
Keselowski surpassed his teammate Joey Logano in the final session to take the No. 1 spot and give the team its third front row start of the season. The previous qualifying mark of 183.636 mph was set by Dale Earnhardt Jr. last season.
“I thought we were all gonna be a lot slower, so I was a little bit surprised by the speeds that we ran," Keselowski said. "Paul (Wolfe) did a good job working on and adjusting the car and getting it to where I wanted it and they hit what I wanted.
“We’re right where we want to be, starting first is a great start but it’s just that it’s just a start. You still have to execute a race and by no means a guarantee of a win, so we’ll want to go out there and earn that Saturday."
The Penske teammates continue to lead the series in final round apperances this season with Logano now with 14 and Keselowski with 12.
"Obviously, Team Penske we’ve qualified well and made the final session at every race track besides Talladega, so we’re still proud that we’ve been able to do that at a lot of different types of race tracks," Logano said. "We’ve been close to getting a pole, but obviously we got one of them but we keep winning the wrong sessions. I kind of wish it was one session like it used to be because I would be in better shape right now."
Logano topped the first two sessions and attempted an additional two laps in the final to try and reclaim the top spot.
Jeff Gordon qualified third with Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick rounding out the top five.
Notables that did not advance out of the first round included Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. They will start 25th and 29th, respectively.
Johnson, who missed moving out of round 1 for the third time this season, liked the way his car felt in race trim after he posted the best 10 consecutive lap average in final practice.
“We made a qualifying run at the end of practice and went slower than our race run so it’s discouraging coming into qualifying,” Johnson said. “We didn’t get the lap that we needed out there and didn’t transfer. But I feel actually decent about our car in race trim. We put up a great two runs in the final practice session. We just couldn’t get out of our own way in Q-trim.”
It appreared it was going to rain as clouds rolled in at the start of qualiying, but that was never the case. Drivers waited a few minutes for the clouds to approach before they went out on track to try and post a fast lap.
Saturday night's Quaker State 400 is scheduled for a 7:45 p.m. (ET) green flag.