Brad Keselowski was the hardest-working man in NASCAR on Friday. Mere hours after he secured the pole for Friday night's Nationwide Series race, he went ahead and did it again for this Saturday's Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway.
From 2008-2013, Keselowski had three Sprint Cup poles to his name. Through the first 17 races of 2014, he's matched that number, per NASCAR Stats:
This is the ninth time this year that the No. 2 car has been in the front row, per USA Today's Jeff Gluck:
This will be the third pole of the year for Brad Keselowski. Also his ninth front row start of the season. Joey Logano will start second.— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) June 27, 2014
Not only did Keselowski go back-to-back on Friday, but he also did so in record-breaking fashion. His top speed of 188.791 miles per hour set a new benchmark at Kentucky:
That's the 12th track record to fall in qualifying this year, per Dustin Long of Motor Racing Network:
Heading into Saturday's race, Keselowski's sitting comfortably in the middle of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He's 47 points ahead of Kyle Busch in eighth, with his victory in Las Vegas back in March giving him some breathing room in the standings.
One checkered flag is the minimum qualification to get in the Chase, and two checkered flags make a driver untouchable. Keselowski will want to parlay his impressive qualifying day into a trip to Victory Lane.
|Place||Driver||Best Speed||Best Time||Behind|
One of Keselowski's Team Penske teammates, Joey Logano, joins him in the front row after placing second. Team Penske has done extremely well in qualifying this year, so it's no surprise that its two best drivers would pace the field once again.
Logano congratulated his teammate on Twitter for a job well-done:
The No. 22 car already has two checkered flags in 2014, so he's all but assured of a place in the Chase. He can crash in every race between now and September and still finish in the top 16. Of course, that won't stop Logano from trying to hoard all of the wins.
Two of the bigger surprises on the evening were the disappointing performances of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. They're third and second, respectively, in the points standings but finished 29th and 25th, respectively, in qualifying.
Neither driver could even make it out of the first round:
Johnson sounded a little more confident that his team can turn things around. He commented that the qualifying trim was nowhere near as good as the racing trim:
Q trim=👎 Race trim 👍👍— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) June 27, 2014
Earnhardt, on the other hand, had fewer answers. He tweeted out that the No. 88 car was sluggish all day and had no idea why:
The cars been off all day. Lots of issues, esp in qualifying. Not sure I got an idea that can help the guys improve it. Still determined.— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) June 27, 2014
At least both drivers head into Saturday comfortable in knowing that they'll be there for the final Chase. They're made men at this point, so any success at Kentucky would be icing on top of what has already been an impressive season for both drivers.