Keselowski Wins Pole For Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 Nascar Cup Series Playoff Race
RFK Racing driver/owner Brad Keselowski stunned the NASCAR Cup Series playoff contenders by earning his first pole position since 2019 in Saturday’s qualifying for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Keselowski, driver of the No. 6 Ford, recorded a top lap of 188.990 miles per hour (28.573 seconds) in the final round of qualifying to secure his first pole since Richmond 109 starts ago and his inaugural one with RFK Racing. The pole was the 18th of his career and second at Texas, with his other coming in this fall race in 2015.
“That was a heckuva lap,” said Keselowski. “This is a tough track to qualify at because the speeds are so high and the track is so slick and hot. We were able to put a lap together. (Turns) Three and four was one of those gutsy laps where you hold it wide open through there and hope it sticks. It was really close but we made it through. That was probably the difference maker.
“It is a super exciting time for me and for our company here at RFK with a lot of the progress we have made over the last few months and now it is actually starting to show up. It has been a painful journey, but a good one.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano posted a lap of 188.805 mph on the 1.5-mile oval to join Keselowski on the front row for Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500, the opening NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race for the Round of 12, that begins at 2:30 p.m. CT (TV: USA Network, Radio: SiriusXM Ch. 90, PRN, 95.9 The Ranch locally).
Logano paced the playoff drivers as he was the first of six to qualify among the top 10. William Byron qualified third at 188.805 and they weren’t the only two playoff drivers among the top five as Tyler Reddick was fourth and Michael McDowell fifth.
Round of 12 top seed Chase Elliott qualified sixth (187.95 mph), Denny Hamlin eighth (186.987), defending race winner Kyle Larson ninth (186.233) and Daniel Suarez 10th (185.401). The non-playoff driver among the second five was Austin Dillon, who earned the seventh starting position with a lap of 187.546 mph.
Playoff drivers Austin Cindric and Ross Chastain were just outside the top-10 qualifiers, earning the 11th and 12th starting positions, respectively, while Ryan Blaney was 14th. The bottom three qualifiers among the playoff drivers were Alex Bowman (17th), Christopher Bell (22nd) and Chase Briscoe (30th) among the 36-car field.
Chris Buescher, the Prosper, Texas native who won last week at Bristol Motor Speedway for RFK Racing, will start 13th.