By Reid Spencer | NASCAR.com
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Brad Keselowski’s pole-winning run on Friday at Kansas Speedway was an early Christmas present to second-place qualifier, Carl Edwards.
Keselowski saved his best lap for the third and final round of knockout qualifying at the 1.5-mile track, touring the distance in 27.621 seconds (195.503 mph) to edge Edwards (195.454 mph) for the top starting spot by .007 seconds.
But in claiming his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at Kansas and the 10th of his career, Keselowski didn’t cash in on one of the primary perks that typically accrues to the pole winner.
Because his No. 2 Team Penske Ford had accumulated four written warnings for minor infractions discovered during the at-track technical inspection process, Keselowski forfeits the traditional right of first pit selection, and the choice goes to Edwards for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET on NBC), the fifth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“It’s like getting a nice piece of cheesecake without the toppings,” Keselowski said. “It’s nice to be fast this week. We weren’t anywhere near as fast as we wanted to be at Charlotte (last Sunday), which was frustrating.
“And I’m not sure I could answer why we’re faster this week, but sometimes that stuff just comes and goes, and you don’t really understand why. But when you have speed, you’ve got to make the most of it.”
Getting the last pick of pit stalls won’t help Keselowski’s cause, but Edwards didn’t seem to mind the unexpected bonus.
“So we’ll get that first pit stall (closest to the exit from pit road),” a delighted Edwards said after time trials. “That’ll be huge. That’s a gift — and we’ll take it.”
Both Keselowski and Edwards are among 12 Chase drivers vying for eight spots in the Eliminator 8 Round of NASCAR’s 10-race playoff, with the cutoff looming Oct. 25 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Only 14th-place qualifier Joey Logano, who with Dale Earnhardt Jr. (15th) was one of two Chase drivers who didn’t make the top 12 on Friday, has already advanced to the Eliminator 8 Round, by virtue of last Sunday’s victory at Charlotte.
In addition to Keselowski, Edwards, Logano and Earnhardt, other Chase drivers will line up as follows: Kyle Busch, third; Kevin Harvick, fourth; Denny Hamlin, fifth; Jeff Gordon, sixth; Martin Truex Jr., seventh; Kurt Busch, ninth; and Matt Kenseth, 10th.
Ryan Blaney (eighth), running a limited schedule for Wood Brothers Racing, was the only non-Chase driver to crack the top 10. Blaney posted the fastest lap in the second round of qualifying at 195.164 mph.
Harvick had difficulty getting up to speed during Friday’s opening practice session, but the reigning series champion was relieved by his fourth-place qualifying effort.
“That’s a win for us,” Harvick said. “We thought we were going to have to race our way from 25th, so to be fourth is a big improvement.”
Notes: Timmy Hill failed to make the 43-car field… Casey Mears’ No. 13 Chevrolet broke loose and slammed into the Turn 4 wall seven minutes into the first round of qualifying, forcing him to a backup car for Sunday’s race.