Driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford, Brad Keselowski, posted his third front row start of the 2014 season on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. Keselowski and his teammate, Joey Logano, have had great success with NASCAR’s new qualifying format.
Keselowski won the pole two weeks ago at Phoenix with Logano coming in second, and Logano picked up the pole last week in Las Vegas with Keselowski starting second.
Keselowski commented on his qualifying success and what it means at Bristol, “Starting is important, but it’s 500 laps. At the end of the day a starting position isn’t relevant if you’re not fast in race trim, so qualifying well is great but not the whole world. What is important is having a good pit stall here. This track is really dicey on pit road among other things, it’s dicey on the track, but pit road is a huge challenge for the crew and the driver so having a strong selection for pit road is probably the larger piece of the equation besides overall morale and feeling good about yourself when you go to bed tonight, but, either way, I’m happy to be in this spot and proud of the effort. Things are going well to start the 2014 season for the 2 crew.
With Fords struggling to keep up with Chevrolet and Toyota in winner’s circle last season, Brad Keselowski’s victory last week in Las Vegas puts Ford on the board with each of the manufacturers posting one win during the first three races of the 2014 season.
Members of the media asked Keselowski on Friday if he can point to anything that has made the Fords better to start the year. He replied, “Yeah, I think the change in the lower fascia, the lower front nose piece, was significant. When Ford came out with their car two years ago they were the first ones out the door and there was a little bit different understanding as to what the rules were at that time than what they were at the start of the 2013 season and I think we kind of got snookered right there on that particular part. We were allowed to update that to resemble that of the other manufacturers at the beginning of 2014, and I think that was a pretty significant change for us. We can point to probably a half-dozen races where that had a severe negative effect for the Ford performance, so that’s probably the biggest one that stands out is kind of getting back on an even playing field with that front fascia, but then again there’s more to it. There are a lot of small things that add up with the Rousch Yates Engine shop has made some gains this year, which we’re proud of, and Team Penske has made some gains on the car side. I felt like we finished 2013 very strong and with those small improvements we’re even better yet for 2014.”
Logano broke his front row starting streak this week, but still landed a fourth place starting position with a qualifying lap of 14.894 seconds. When asked how his strategy worked out at the end, Logano replied, “Not good enough. I feel like we did what we were supposed to do to be able to go out there and give it a shot for the pole. Really and honestly Brad’s car has been a little faster than ours today. I felt like when we won the first session I’m like, ‘Ok, we found something between practice and qualifying,’ so I felt pretty good about it…I’m still trying to digest everything that happened here and try to make sense of it all, but overall we’re mad about fourth. It’s not that bad, but it’s a good position to be in.”
Team Penske will strive to put Ford at the top of the win leaderboard this Sunday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway scheduled for 1:00 pm local time.