Brad Keselowski has embraced this throwback weekend and it has loved him in return. Keselowski ran a 27.492-second lap at a speed of 178.874 mph to win the pole for Sunday’s Southern 500.
Starting to his outside will be Kurt Busch. The elder Busch brother ran a 177.588-mph lap in 27.691 seconds.
The front two rows are occupied by just two teams, Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing.
Tire falloff was a key element of the sessions. The drivers had to get everything they could on the first run of a session. If they had to run a second time they were generally unable to improve on the time they laid down in the first run of a session.
Asked about the finesse required to sit on the pole at Darlington Keselowski said, “This is the greatest combination of speed and guts of any track we go to.”
In the second session, Keselowski was the fastest driver while Carl Edwards was the fastest driver not to make it to the final round. Among the the drivers not making it to the final run for the pole were Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle. Biffle made some serious contact with the wall. The team was waiting until it could get the car to the garage to determine if it needed to go to a backup car or not.
In the first round Busch was the fastest car, while Matt DiBenedetto was the fastest car to not make the cut and will start 25th.
Danica Patrick made significant contact with the wall and was forced to a backup car for Sunday’s race.
The pole is Keselowski’s ninth career pole in his 222nd start. It is his first career pole at Darlington Raceway and also his first pole of 2015. Busch’s outside pole is his first at Darlington and his fourth top-two start at the egg-shaped oval.