Brad Keselowski sets track speed record en route to earning Sprint Cup pole at Dover

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Brad Keselowski must have gotten tired having started on the outside pole so many times this season.

Enough was enough on Friday for Keselowski, who after sitting on the outside pole six times in the first 12 races of 2014, earned his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season for Sunday’s FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.

Keselowski, who is seeking his second Sprint Cup victory of the season, recorded a DIS track record qualifying lap of 164.444 mph. It was Keselowski’s fifth career Sprint Cup pole and the third for Team Penske in 2014.

“We had a great car today, all day,” Keselowski said. “I just wanted to get going.”

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch won the outside pole with a best lap of 163.785 mph.

“The 2 (Keselowski) and 22 (Joey Logano) always seem to go faster on their second runs, and we just got beat on speed there,” Busch said. “The car’s been real fast all weekend, we’re happy with it in race trim and everything, so I think we’ll be good for the race on Sunday.”

Qualifying third through 12th in the third and final session were: Keselowski’s Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano (163.688), Coca-Cola 600 winner Jimmie Johnson (163.362), Kyle Larson (163.080), Denny Hamlin (163.066), Jeff Gordon (163.066), Kevin Harvick (162.499), Brian Vickers (162.411), Clint Bowyer (162.243), AJ Allmendinger (162.155) and Greg Biffle (160.995).

Team Penske – either Keselowski or Logano – has now sat on the front row in either the No. 1 or No. 2 spots in knockout qualifying 10 times in the first 13 races this season (there was no knockout qualifying in the season-opening Daytona 500).

Because only 43 cars made qualifying attempts, there were no cars that failed to qualify.

Here’s how they’ll line up for Sunday’s FedEx400 Benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway:

Row 1 Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch

Row 2 Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson

Row 3 Kyle Larson, Jeff Gordon

Row 4 Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick

Row 5 Brian Vickers, Clint Bowyer

Row 6 AJ Allmendinger, Greg Biffle

Row 7 Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman

Row 8 Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr.

Row 9 Kasey Kahne, Brett Moffitt

Row 10 Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart

Row 11 Matt Kenseth, Casey Mears

Row 12 Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch

Row 13 Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Row 14 Marcos Ambrose, Danica Patrick

Row 15 Carl Edwards, Justin Allgaier

Row 16 Cole Whitt, David Gilliland

Row 17 Josh Wise, David Ragan

Row 18 Alex Bowman, Landon Cassill

Row 19 JJ Yeley, Reed Sorenson

Row 20 Michael Annett, David Stremme

Row 21 Ryan Truex, Dave Blaney

Row 22 Blake Koch

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New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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