It wasn’t a very pretty day on a rainy Friday in the Pocono Mountains.
But maybe it depends on perspective: It sure looked good for Penske Racing.
Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano finished 1-2 in qualifying for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Axalta 400 at Pocono Raceway. Penske drivers swept the top three positions in qualifying for the IndyCar race in Michigan, making it a banner day for Roger Penske’s teams.
“The IndyCar side always sets the bar really high,” Keselowski said. “That’s not a bad thing. Our opportunity is to be just as successful.”
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Keselowski claimed his first pole of the season by turning a lap at 181.7 mph at the track known as the “Tricky Triangle.” That allowed him to edge Logano (181.4 mph), who will start second for the second consecutive week.
“That one stings a little bit,” Logano said. “We’re mad about second. So that’s a good thing when you’re mad about second. It means your organization and your team are where they need to be.”
Matt Kenseth qualified third, followed by points-leader Kevin Harvick. Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.
Rain and fog played havoc with Friday’s practice session. Only 28 of the 40 drivers made it to the track before the session was halted after about 10 minutes when the rain resumed.
But the weather cleared enough for the afternoon qualifying. Forecasters are calling for cloudy skies Saturday, with a 100 percent chance of precipitation for Sunday’s race day.
“Unfortunately we’re getting pretty good at dealing with it lately. It seems like this is how it goes every now and again,” Logano said. “It doesn’t really affect you much. I am a routine person to get ready for a race. But for the most part it doesn’t bother me a whole bunch.”
Truex’s day: Martin Truex Jr. started from the front last week in Charlotte and stayed there, winning the Coca-Cola 600 after leading a NASCAR-record 588 of the 600 miles.
But Truex will begin farther back for Sunday’s race after qualifying 17th on a day when his team had trouble getting his No. 78 Toyota tight. Truex had to make an extra run to make it through the first round, putting additional wear on his tires and playing a role in his failure to survive the second round, he said.
Truex only ran one practice lap due to the weather and his team spent the afternoon making adjustments. They’ll continue tweaking the set-up through the weekend.
“You always like to start up front at tracks like this, but we’ll be fine,” Truex said. “We’ll get to work (Saturday). I know our car will be fast. We tire-tested here really well (in April). It just didn’t relate to the qualifying setup for today.”
Saturday’s schedule: Pocono Raceway will host its first Xfinity Series race Saturday, although drivers will line up for the Pocono Green 250 without practice or qualifying Friday because of the weather.
Qualifying will take place Saturday morning, with the race scheduled to start at 1 p.m.
Sprint Cup practice will precede the Xfinity race.