After nabbing his second pole of the 2014 Sprint Cup season, Brad Keselowski will be looking for his second checkered flag this weekend in the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway:
Keselowski's top speed of 164.444 miles per hour set a track record, per NASCAR stats:
"It has been a good year for qualifying and I would say most years that has not been the case," he said, per Jeff Gluck of USA Today. "I am not going to complain by any stretch of the imagination."
Before Friday, Keselowski's highest-ever start at Dover had been sixth, according to DriverAverages.com. He has one win at the track to his name—the AAA 400 in 2012, and his average finish is an even 16th.
While that's not a glittering record at the track, the 30-year-old had a great car in qualifying. He's likely to be in the thick of the action during the race.
With one win already under his belt, Keselowski doesn't desperately need to make the trip to Victory Lane on Sunday. He sits eighth in the standings, which would get him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup if the season ended today.
A checkered flag would be nice, though, as it would all but lock up a spot in the final Chase, with the way that wins are weighted this year.
Here's a look at how the top 20 shook out in qualifying for the FedEx 400.
|Pos.||Driver||Car No.||Best Time||Behind|
|13||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||88||22.095||-0.203|
|16||Martin Truex Jr.||78||22.107||-0.215|
The current leader in the Sprint Cup standings, Joey Logano, also had a strong qualifying round. He'll start in third on Sunday.
That was miles better than where he had been in the practice round. His speed of 163.376 miles per hour was only good enough for 23rd.
Logano thanked his crew on Twitter for the massive turnaround:
Starting out that close to the lead will be a massive boost to Logano. He's never won at Dover in 10 tries. His highest-ever finish is third, which he's done on two different occasions. His average finish is 15.40, according to DriverAverages.com.
Logano's two wins this season mean he's a virtual lock for the final Chase, though, so if he does struggle on Sunday, it won't be the end of the world.
One driver who is desperately looking for a win is Matt Kenseth. His 421 points are the second-most in the Sprint Cup standings, but since he has yet to earn a checkered flag, he's all the way down at 11th. While that's good enough to qualify for the Chase right now, if he goes much longer without a win, he risks dropping out of the top 16.
Kenseth will start the FedEx 400 in 21st place after posting a top speed of 162.536 miles per hour:
He has two wins at Dover in his career, so Sunday may be the perfect time to pick up that all-important victory.
Jimmie Johnson enters the weekend with the most wins in track history:
Jimmie Johnson: 8th NSCS win at Dover (breaks tie with Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for most all-time)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 29, 2013
Johnson's Dover dominance is incredible. Rarely do you see one driver own a track in the way that he does here. Winning eight times is beyond coincidence. Johnson's tamed "The Monster Mile," and he'll be the favorite to win.
By starting out in fourth, he's a great chance to get an early jump on the leaders. Keselowski will no doubt be looking in his rearview mirror to see when the No. 48 car makes his move.
So far this season, though, the biggest story has been the amount of first-time winners:
There's 10 different winners in the first 12 races of the season for the first time in the Chase era (last time it happened was in 2003).— Matt Willis (@MattWillisESPN) May 27, 2014
Plenty of top stars are still seeking that elusive first trip to Victory Lane. Although Johnson will be the driver to beat, with the way 2014 has unfolded, somebody new may be rising to the occasion on Sunday.