Brad Keselowski originally was not scheduled to compete in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 season-ending NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Joey Logano was originally slated to run the Team Penske No. 22 Ford, but with his focus on winning Sunday’s Sprint Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Keselowski was a late replacement.
Even though he was thrown into it, Keselowski obviously didn’t mind. One week after winning the NNS race at Phoenix, Keselowski came back to earn the pole position for Saturday’s NNS race at Homestead.
Keselowski paced the field with a speed of 166.384 mph. It was his fifth NNS pole of the season and 19th of his career. Keselowski has five wins from the pole in that career, as well, including once at HMS.
“I honestly didn’t expect to get the pole,” Keselowski told Fox Sports 1. “My teammate, Ryan Blaney, was really fast the first two sessions.
“But we were able to just find a little extra speed, I got her dialed in and it’s going to be starting on the pole.”
Twice before, Penske Racing has earned the NNS pole at HMS and gone on to victory. Keselowski is gunning to make it three.
“I’d love to add a three to that, so hopefully we can get three wins,” Keselowski said.
Whether Keselowski or another driver wins the race, it will be historic: Saturday’s event will be the final race ever run under the Nationwide Series banner. The series will be rebranded to the Xfinity Series beginning in 2015.
Kyle Larson qualified second (166.353 mph), followed by Matt Kenseth (166.006), Elliott Sadler (165.827), Ryan Blaney (165.756), Kyle Busch (165.685), Brian Scott (165.269), Brendan Gaughan (165.158), Dylan Kwasniewski (164.870), Chris Buescher (164.224), Ryan Reed (163.969) and Josh Berry (162.660).
“We just missed it barely there at the end,” Larson said. “Hopefully, we can have a little better finish than we had last night. We came up just one spot short.”
Larson finished second to Darrell “Bubba” Wallace in Friday night’s Truck Series season finale.
There were a few surprises along the way, as well:
* Chase Elliott, who clinched the Nationwide Series championship last week at Phoenix, had issues with control on his Chevrolet, ultimately being unable to qualify any higher than 14th.
* Regan Smith, who had been Elliott’s chief chaser during the championship battle, also had issues, qualifying 15th. And Ty Dillon also had control issues, qualifying 21st.
Row 1: Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson
Row 2: Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler
Row 3: Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch
Row 4: Brian Scott, Brendan Gaughan
Row 5: Dylan Kwasniewski, Chris Buescher
Row 6: Ryan Reed, Josh Berry
Row 7: Trevor Bayne, Chase Elliott
Row 8: Regan Smith, Corey Lajoie
Row 9: JJ Yeley, Mike Bliss
Row 10: Dakoda Armstrong, Jeremy Clements
Row 11: Ty Dillon, Blake Koch
Row 12: Landon Cassill, James Buescher
Row 13: Ross Chastain, John Wes Townley
Row 14: Eric McClure, Jeffrey Earnhardt
Row 15: David Starr, TJ Bell
Row 16: Paul Menard, Ryan Sieg
Row 17: Ryan Preece, Jeff Green
Row 18: Jake Crum, Tanner Berryhill
Row 19: Matt DiBenedetto, Kevin Lepage
Row 20: Milka Duno, Carlos Contreras
Did not qualify: Derrike Cope, Joey Gase, Ryan Ellis, Johnny Jackson, Martin Roy.
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