Kobalt Tools 400
At Las Vegas Motor Speedway
LAS VEGAS Less than two days in town and the odds already are in Brad Keselowski’s favor.
Keselowski, the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion, cashed in on a perk that carries over to the next year when he earned the top starting position in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Persistent rain washed out Cup qualifying. Sunday’s field was set by 2012 car owner points, which leaves Keselowski and 2012 runner-up Clint Bowyer sharing the front row.
“I was just thinking, with this being Vegas and all, what the odds would be of a rainout in Vegas? I bet that was pretty high,” Keselowski said Friday.
“Obviously, whenever you can start up front it is a big deal, and you get the first pit stall and all those things that make a big difference on pit road.
“The way our car has been running the last two weeks, and off of what I saw in practice (Thursday), I feel like we are in position to hopefully keep that for a very long time in the race and hopefully close it out.”
Keselowski and his No. 2 Penske Racing team are off to their best start since he joined the organization in 2010 with a pair of fourth-place finishes.
In 2010, he was 28th in the series standings after two races. In 2011, he was 29th. Last season, he was 12th.
The Cup series got several hours of practice on Thursday in large part because Sunday’s race is the first for the new Cup series car on a 1.5-mile speedway — the most common size track during the season.
In Keselowski’s case, the car he used on track Thursday is not the one he will run in the race on Sunday. That was true for probably close to 50 percent of the teams that participated in the test.
With no practice and qualifying on Friday, that leaves Saturday practice as the only meaningful time Keselowski will get in this weekend’s car.
The time on the track, he said, still was beneficial.
“I am very thankful we had the test day. That is a big deal for us to not go into Sunday blind. I am glad that worked out,” Keselowski said.
The last time Keselowski started a Cup race out front was when he won the pole in 2011 for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I think that track position in this sport has always been important and is becoming increasingly important the last few years. I don’t want to undersell the history of the sport to that regard,” Keselowski said.
“It was certainly not easy to make those passes last week. I am not going to assume that it will be this week. Thankfully, I don’t have to as it pertains to the start of the race.”