NASCAR Wire Service
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Brad Keselowski will start on the pole for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 (at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN), after taking the top spot from fellow Ford driver Ryan Blaney, who had posted the fastest times to that point, but bobbled twice in his run in the final qualifying round on Friday at Michigan International Speedway.
Keselowski grew up in Rochester Hills, Mich., a Detroit suburb 99 miles from Michigan International Speedway. He is a big fan of Detroit and University of Michigan sports teams and long has said how badly he wants to win at MIS. He has five top fives, but no wins at his home track. He has often said that a win here would be of similar importance to winning the biggest races in the sport. He joked that if he followed up today’s success with a win on Sunday that the victory celebration would be the type for which he has to ask for forgiveness.
“When I saw that we were going to win the pole, those last few seconds of qualifying, it sent chills down my body. It’s a special track for me to have any kind of success at,” he said.
Clouds moving in and out affected the speeds dramatically-the more clouds, the faster the cars go. Because of changes in the cloud cover, and the fact his team had made last-second changes to the car, Keselowski was skeptical when he pulled onto the track for his final lap. But the changes made his car faster, and his time of 35.451 (203.097 mph) stood up as the best of the final 12. It is the 14th Coors Light pole of his career, his second of 2017 and his first in 17 tries at Michigan.
“A driver’s home track, where his family and friends are all present, it just feels like a bigger event. Michigan, for me, feels like a bigger event,” Keselowski said. “You want to make those people proud when you have the opportunity. When you have the smallest sliver of success, it feels magnified. It feels bigger. That’s what today is for me.”
Keselowski will be joined on the front row by his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano. Keselowski is locked into the playoffs, but Logano isn’t. He is 18th in points and an insurmountable 95 points out of the 16th and final playoff spot. With just four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races left in the regular season, he is in a must-win situation.
“I think you do get a little bit desperate,” Logano said following qualifying on Friday at Michigan. “You’ve got to win. There is no second option, so the intensity is very, very high. You have to be on-point all the time. Every change has to be a good one. Every lap has to be a good one.”
Earlier this season, Logano finished third and Keselowski finished 16th at Michigan.