Brad Keselowski won his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position of the season, timing his run in the final part of qualifying to lead qualifying for the FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.
The Penske Racing driver set a new track record in the process, slaying the famed Monster Mile with a time of 21.892 seconds, equating to an average speed of 164.44mph around the concrete track. Keselowski was the first man out in the second and final part of qualifying as the 12 man party going for pole all tried to wait out the conditions for the cloud cover that would provide the extra thousandths necessary to take pole position.
It was just such a margin that had decided which dozen drivers would progress into the pole session. A.J. Allmendinger snuck into the final berth late on, bumping Dale Earnhardt Jr. who was stuck on the outside when the session ended, his best lap (22.095) just two thousandths slower than Allmendinger’s in the #47 Chevrolet.
Earnhardt Jr. was one of a number of big names who missed the cut. Richard Childress Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Paul Menard will start 14th and 15th, both having been bumped from top 12 spots. Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth struggled further, only able to post times worthy of 20th and 21st starting spots.
Both men will start behind Brett Moffitt, the 21-year-old making his first Sprint Cup start in the #66 Toyota. For a time he looked as though he may make his way into the top twelve, holding the final place in the dozen before Denny Hamlin bumped him on his way to the fourth best time of the session
The best time of the opening part of qualifying was set by Kyle Busch – the fastest man in practice – the Joe Gibbs Racing driver claiming a new track record. However, that record would be beaten by Keselowski minutes later.
Busch and the #18 team tried the same tactic again in the final part of qualifying, waiting until the second half of the session to even venture out on track. However, in doing so he was only able to post the second best time – 21.980 – to break up the threat of an all Penske-Ford front row by pushing Joey Logano back to third.
Coca-Cola 600 winner Jimmie Johnson will start fourth ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s rookie Kyle Larson.
Jeff Gordon, Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers, Clint Bowyer, Allmendinger and Greg Biffle will complete the front six rows for the start of Sunday’s 400 lap race.