Keselowski rolls the dice, wins pole at Vegas

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying in the pole position for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 10, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski hit a perfect blackjack in Las Vegas Friday.  Less than  week after a surprising win at Atlanta, the 2012 NASCAR champion put his Team Penske Ford on the pole for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup Kobalt 400 with a lap of 193.68 miles per hour early in the final round of the three round knockout qualifying.

“We’re off to a good start for sure,” Keselowski said.  “It feels good to get an early-season pole to go with our win.”

It was the first pole for Keselowski since Pocono last June, his first at Las Vegas and the thirteenth of his career.  Keselowski admitted that he and his team had no elaborate strategy. HE was out first in the final round.

“Honestly, I thought I might screw it up and I wanted to get another shot, so I figured if I went out early, I could,” he admitted. “That was not really the most elaborate of strategies, but it worked.”

Martin Truex Jr. in a Toyota was out in the final minute of the five minute round and came close to the pole but fell just short and had to settle for second.

“I felt like we had a pretty well put together lap, but it wasn’t perfect,” Truex said. “Not quite as good through turns one and two with the bumps as I’d like to be and it felt like we hit three and four good. I felt like the bumps in one and two got us. All in all, I felt like we just missed the pace a little bit.”

Ryan Blaney, who led the second round, held the second spot just ahead of Truex and will start third.  Matt Kenseth in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will start fourth, Kyle Larson in a Chip Ganassi Chevrolet rounded out the top five.

“I thought we made good improvements from practice and that was nice,” Blaney said. “The first round we weren’t great. The second round we got really good (P1). They made good adjustment on that one. The third round I thought we had it through one and two and then we got held up by traffic in three and four.. I think we were close. We showed speed in our car. We go to work tomorrow and see what we have in the race. Starting third isn’t bad. We’ll try to improve on that.”

Unlike last week at Atlanta, there was no inspection drama prior to the session. Erik Jones was the last car out of the inspection line but before the first round got the green flag.

Joey Logano will start sixth, Kasey Kahne seventh followed by Jones, Jamie McMurray, with Kyle Busch, who led the first round with the fastest lap of the day, 194.028 starting tenth. Daniel Suarez and Chase Elliott were the last two drivers to advance to the final round, and will start eleventh and twelfth respectively.  With 39 cars entered, no one was sent home.

The NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kobalt 400 will get the green flag Sunday just after 3:30 p.m. with live coverage on Fox starting at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.