Saturday, November 17, 2012
Brad Keselowski moves to front row
By David Newton
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Point leader Brad Keselowski will move to the front row of Sunday's Sprint Cup finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, thanks to a wreck during Saturday's first practice.
Pole-sitter Joey Logano will go to a backup car and start at the back of the field after being involved in an accident with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle.
Keselowski said he never expected to be on the front row.
"It's unfortunate what happened to Joey and those guys,'' he said. "Obviously, it's a good place to be. I'm going to do what I can to lead the first lap, and I think we have a car to do it.''
When Logano drops back just prior to the start of the race, the inside line will move up and put Keselowski essentially on the pole position. Keselowski qualified third.
NASCAR has the discretion of whether to allow the pole-sitter to pick what lane he would have started. Officials opted not to give Logano, who will be Keselowski's teammate at Penske Racing next year, that choice.
Keselowski enters the race with a 20-point lead over five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Johnson, in the outside lane starting 10th, will not move up.
Johnson said he has a top-five car and hopefully can work toward a winning car during the race. He wasn't concerned that Keselowski could stretch his advantage by leading the first lap for a bonus point.
"I hope he tries really, really, really hard to lead that first lap,'' Johnson said with a smile. "I know (Marcos) Ambrose next to him is going to try hard, too. That could be good for me."
Biffle said he and Hamlin were "running a little hard'' for practice when they got into each other and collected Logano in the process.
Logano said there appeared to be confusion among Biffle and Hamlin over whether they were two or three wide.
"I was behind the [Biffle], Denny went to the bottom, I went to the top and the 16 was in the middle,'' Logano said. "I wasn't going to stick it three-wide so I stayed back because I figured it was practice, why are we going to do that?
"Just seemed like Denny was coming up like we were two-wide and the 16 stayed in the middle of the race track like he was three-wide and they ran out of room and I was the innocent bystander once again and drove into it. It's unfortunate."
Logano was collected in last week's late wreck at Phoenix involving Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer that ultimately led to a fight between the crews on pit road and in the garage.