By AMANDA VINCENT
Brad Keselowski posted a 27.621-second/195.503 mph lap at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., in the third of three rounds of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying on Friday evening to claim the pole for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at the track, the second race of the second round of the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup. It’s his first-career pole at Kansas but his second of the season.
Keselowski will share the front row with Carl Edwards. Although Keselowski will be the pole sitter on Sunday, Edwards actually claimed first pit selection with his second-place qualifying run, as a NASCAR penalties assessed to the teams of Keselowski and Tony Stewart because of issues last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, their teams were last to make pit selections. Stewart qualified inside the top-20.
“I guess it’s like getting a nice cheesecake with no toppings,” Keselowski said. “I still like cheesecake. We’ll make the most of it. It is nice to be fast this week.”
Keselowski was fast throughout the day on Friday. After posting the fastest lap time in the one practice session prior to qualifying, Keselowski, again, was fastest in the first round of qualifying with a 27.678-second/195.101 mph lap. He was the only driver to surpass the 195 mph mark in round one.
“We have a lot to look forward to, so we’re proud of today, for sure, but looking forward,” Keselowski said. “That’s what matters.”
Keselowski also posted a fast lap early in lap two to take the provisional top spot, but by the end of the round, fellow-Ford driver Ryan Blaney topped the speed chart with a 27.669-second/195.164 mph lap. Blaney wound up eighth in the final round.
“We got better from the first round to the second round,” Blaney said. “We had a really good second round and the 2 (Keselowski) went a little quicker the last round, and I tried to get a little more and it bit us. I should have just did what I did the round before and see if it was a little bit faster, but I just tried to get too much and, unfortunately, lost a little bit of speed there, but I’m proud of everybody on the Motorcraft team.”
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick will share row two on the starting grid on Sunday, with Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon in row three. All four of Joe Gibbs Racing’s entries were among the 12 to advance to the third round to qualify for top-10 spots. Joining Edwards, Busch and Hamlin in the top-12 was their JGR teammate Matt Kenseth, who qualified 11th.
Blaney and Greg Biffle were the only two non-Chase drivers to qualify inside the top-12, with Blaney qualifying eighth and Biffle 12th. That put two of the 12 Chase drivers outside the top-12. Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 14th and 15th.
Here is the complete starting grid for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway:
Row 1 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 2 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 4 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Chevrolet), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 5 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford)
Row 7 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 8 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), Brian Scott (No. 33 Chevrolet)
Row 9 — Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 10 — Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), David Ragan (No. 55 Toyota)
Row 12 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota)
Row 14 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet), Justin Allgaier (No. 51 Chevrolet)
Row 16 — Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 9 Ford), Alex Bowman (No. 7 Chevrolet)
Row 17 — David Gilliland (No. 38 Ford), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota)
Row 18 — Brett Moffitt (No. 34 Ford), J.J. Yeley (No. 26 Toyota)
Row 19 — Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet), Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 20 — Cole Whitt (No. 35 Ford), Jeb Burton (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 21 — Landon Cassill (No. 40 Chevrolet), Reed Sorenson (No. 98 Ford)
Row 22 — Will Kimmel III (No. 32 Ford)
DNQ (did not qualify) — Timmy Hill
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