Brad Keselowski “best of the rest” after finishing third at Homestead

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Brad Keselowski couldn’t quite pull out a victory to close his 2014 Sprint Cup season, but the Team Penske pilot’s third-place finish in tonight’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway allowed him to finish fifth in the championship standings – and tops among drivers not among the Championship 4.

Keselowski was in contention for the race win, running third at a restart with nine laps left in the Ford Ecoboost 400. But he was one of several drivers who were swallowed up after the green flag by a charging Kevin Harvick, who went on to win the race and his first Cup title.

“It was a good night,” said Keselowski. “To have another sound finish and bring home the white deuce with a third is not bad. We certainly wanted to be able to win and Kevin made a great move on that next-to-last restart and got through traffic and by us for the lead. That was pretty cool to see actually.

“It was a solid season for everyone here at Team Penske. We had six wins and I think 17 top-fives, the most top fives and wins in the series and that is a lot to be proud of. It was a decent night. Not exceptional but a pretty good night.

“We end up third with some ups and downs and got caught on pit road under a yellow. The team did a great job recovering from that. It was a solid to finish to what has been a great year for us.”

Keselowski was running in the Top 10 when he pitted under green at Lap 57 -only to have the caution come out one lap later. That put him a lap down, but after taking the wave-around to return to the lead lap, he re-emerged in the Top 10 by Lap 100.

Keselowski would then rise as high as second in the latter stages of the race before settling for the third-place spot behind Harvick and Ryan Newman.

His six victories were not enough to ensure him a spot in the Championship 4, but Keselowski was at ease about who ultimately took the crown.

“The fastest car all season won the championship,” he mused. “I think that is right. The most consistent car was probably Jeff [Gordon]. He finished sixth in points. We had the most wins and we finished [fifth].

“You can argue every case for a championship scenario but the reality is that we all knew what it took to win going in, and Kevin and his team did it.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III