Since NASCAR returned to action after a 10-week break because of the COVID-19 pandemic, starting lineups for two races have been determined by random draw. Brad Keselowski’s #2 Team Penske race team has had the best possible luck in those drawings, claiming Keselowski the pole for both of those races, most recently getting its driver the pole for Sunday’s Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway a week after he won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Keselowski also drew the pole for NASCAR’s return race at Darlington Raceway on May 17.
“First one won from my living room,” Keselowski said on Twitter after his Darlington pole.
Ford swept both front row positions in Friday’s draw for Bristol starting positions, with Aric Almirola securing the second starting spot.
“Bristol is a track I always look forward to going to,” Almirola said. “We just haven’t had luck on our side the last few races there. I feel confident there, too. We just need some things to go our way to actually finish a solid race.”
Actually, Ford took the top-four starting positions, as Keselowski’s team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney drew starting spots third and fourth to put all three Team Penske entrants in the top-five spots on the starting grid.
Toyota and Chevrolet took third-row starting spots, with Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. in the best Toyota starting position of fifth, and most recent series winner Chase Elliott claiming the sixth starting spot for Chevrolet after winning Thursday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I love Bristol. It’s a great track. It’s a lot of fun,” Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson said. “But it’s got its own unique challenges, and it’s got its own unique circumstances. I don’t really feel like there’s much from any of the tracks that we’ve raced that’s going to correlate to Bristol. It’s its own animal. I’m excited to get there and race it, and the dynamic of the track changing and rubber and the grip compound and no practice and all that’s going to be – it’s going to be significant there. That’ll be a pressure cooker. It’ll be fun.”
Other top-10 starters for the Bristol race include eight-time Bristol winner Kyle Busch in seventh, Kevin Harvick in eighth and Matt DiBenedetto and Denny Hamlin in row five in the ninth and 10th positions.
“It’s going to be an absolute handful probably the first 50 or 100 laps of the race,” Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens said. “To be your best at the end of the race, you’re going to have to find a way to navigate through that.”
Busch’s older brother and six-time Bristol winner Kurt Busch drew the 12th starting spot.