Brad Keselowski has the advantage

Friday, Nov. 16, 2012

Advantage, Brad Keselowski.

For the second consecutive week, Keselowski out-qualified his challenger for this season’s Sprint Cup Series championship and will begin Sunday’s race with an advantage – if only slight – over Jimmie Johnson.

While Joey Logano will start from the pole in Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in his final race with Joe Gibbs Racing, Keselowski will line up in third. Johnson qualified 10th.

Keselowski enters the race with a 20-point lead over Johnson and can guarantee a first Cup title for himself and team owner Roger Penske if he finishes 15th or better regardless of what Johnson does.

Marcos Ambrose qualified second; Carl Edwards was fourth; and Aric Almirola fifth.

“To go out there in our final race with JGR and go out there and get a pole for those guys, they deserve it,” said Logano, who earned his second pole of the season and fifth of his career.

“I’ve been working with them since I was 15 years old so it's really neat to get them a pole here at Homestead. They gave me the car I needed to do what I had to do and I did what I had to do and we got the pole, so everything went as planned.”

Logano moves to Penske Racing next season where he will become Keselowski’s new teammate.

Changing gears back to the championship race, what does the better qualifying position do for Keselowski?

“Other than pit stall selection, it’s kind of a moot point,” he said. “I mean maybe some kind of mental thing. 

“I totally expected (Johnson) to out-qualify us, to be quite honest.  I was going to be fine with that.  At least we were prepared for the worst and that’s not what happened so I guess we’re okay.”

This is the fifth 1.5-mile track of the Chase and Keselowski has three times qualified 13th or worse. Johnson’s 10th-place start Sunday will be his worst on a 1.5-mile track in the Chase.

“I imagine it’ll be very similar to what we saw at Texas,” Keselowski said of Sunday’s race.  “These tracks are probably the most similar, here Texas and Chicagoland, with the grip levels and the configurations.

“So, I’d expect the racing to be similar to that.”

Johnson said he had hoped to put some pressure on Keselowski at the start of the race through performance.

“The best pressure I could put on him would be winning the pole. But we didn’t do that,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll stay there in the top 10, which is good for us.

“We’ll get a good pit stall on pit road and go into race trim (Saturday) and make sure we’ve got our race car right. What’s interesting is a lot of the guys that were really fast in race trim, weren’t so good in qualifying. The packages are far different.”

That may work to Johnson’s team’s advantage.

“This schedule is very No. 48-style where we can just focus on one thing on Friday and then turn around on Saturday and work on race trim,” he said.

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