BROOKLYN, Mich. – Roger Penske’s prowess in the Irish Hills was on full display Friday afternoon at Michigan Int’l Speedway, as his cars locked out the front row in qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400.
After Ryan Blaney led the first two knockout rounds in the Penske-affiliated Wood Brothers Ford, Brad Keselowski scorched the two-mile oval in the third and final round with a lap of 35.451 seconds (203.097 mph) in the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford to end Kyle Busch’s string of three-straight Coors Light Pole Awards.
Keselowski’s effort marked his first-career pole at his home track and the 14th of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
“It feels really good; it kind of feels like (winning the pole for) the first time,” a jubilant Keselowski admitted. “This is a track that probably isn’t my best track, even though it’s my hometown track. I’m not sure how that all works out. The team did a great job, made some adjustments between the rounds and tuned it up to where I was really comfortable and laid down a heck of a lap.”
“My teammate Ryan Blaney was super fast. I’m not sure what happened on his run, but I’m really happy for my team and for the effort that they put in to get these kind of results. Our team group has been really working hard on that. … We’re happy and proud to have some speed this weekend and to be on the pole at Michigan; gosh that feels so good.”
Keselowski’s teammate Joey Logano landed second on the board, seeking a win to qualify for the playoffs. The Middletown, Conn. native is a two-time winner at Michigan, having done so in 2013 and again in 2016.
Logano’s lap of 35.457 seconds (203.063 mph) was the only other time to eclipse the 203 mph barrier, but missed the pole by .006 of a second.
“Man, second always sucks, even when it’s your teammate,” Logano quipped. “It seems like Team Penske’s got some speed, even the (No.) 21 … and most of the Fords look pretty good here, so that’s a good sign. I think we had our car really good in race-trim too. I feel good about it.”
“Obviously, a good starting spot and pit stall is going to be key, and we’ve got that … so hopefully we can just maintain that track position. We need a win and this is a good start.”
Kevin Harvick made it a run of three Fords in the top three grid spots for Sunday’s race (35.505/202.788), followed by Matt Kenseth’s Toyota and Chase Elliott’s Chevrolet.
Busch’s run of poles ended with a sixth-place effort in the final round, ahead of Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Blaney among the cars who advanced through all three rounds of qualifying.
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