Ke­selowski sits on 3rd Chase race pole af­ter rain at Dover

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Dan Gel­ston

DOVER, DEL. >> Brad Ke­selowski says hav­ing all 16 Chase driv­ers start in the front of the field will be “fun to watch.”

He just won’t catch much of the ac­tion.

Ke­selowski has the pole af­ter rain wiped out qual­i­fy­ing Fri­day at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way. It was the third straight Dover race where qual­i­fy­ing was can­celed be­cause of rain.

Ke­selowski ben­e­fited this time be­cause Sun­day’s Sprint Cup race was set on owner points. The 16 Chase driv­ers make up the first eight rows in the field, and it should be a bat­tle from the start — the play­off field is cut from 16 to 12 driv­ers fol­low­ing Dover.

“I won’t get to see it, but you will,” Ke­selowski said. “That will be fun to watch.”

Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Har­vick have al­ready ad­vanced to the next round with Chase vic­to­ries. Truex joins Ke­selowski on the front row. Kyle Busch starts third, fol­lowed by Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano.

Other Chase qual­i­fiers, from sixth to 16th are: Kevin Har­vick, Denny Ham­lin, Jim­mie John­son, Carl Ed­wards, Chase El­liott, Kurt Busch, Kyle Lar­son, Austin Dillon, Jamie McMur­ray, Tony Ste­wart, and Chris Buescher.

Buescher made the Chase on the back of a rain-short­ened vic­tory at Po­cono and made the rookie driver per­haps the most sur­pris­ing play­off en­trant in NASCAR his­tory.

He pretty much has to win to ad­vance to the sec­ond round, akin to a No. 16 seed beat­ing a 1 in the NCAA tour­na­ment.

“It’s kind of nice to be able to go into a race and just worry about do­ing the best you can,” he said. “It’s go­ing to make it where we’re able to go out here and not worry about it, take some chances, try and uti­lize some risk, and see if we can pull some­thing off.”

Here are some other items of note from a short day at Dover: PRACTCE >> Lar­son turned the fastest prac­tice lap of the day with a speed of 165.578 mph. Kyle Busch had the best 10-con­sec­u­tive lap av­er­age at 159.336.

Lar­son holds the fi­nal trans­fer spot by five points over Chip Ganassi Rac­ing team­mate Jamie McMur­ray and Richard Chil­dress Rac­ing’s Austin Dillon.

Lar­son fin­ished sec­ond in the spring at Dover. OVER AT DOVER >> McMur­ray was elim­i­nated from the Chase at Dover last sea­son af­ter fin­ish­ing fourth. Dale Earn­hardt Jr. passed McMur­ray late in the race to tie him in points for the fi­nal trans­fer spot. Earn­hardt ad­vanced be­cause his best fin­ish of third in the open­ing round was bet­ter than McMur­ray’s top fin­ish of fourth.

“Last year was a lot of fun, get­ting to race with the No. 88 and know­ing that I had to fin­ish ahead of him in or­der to ad­vance to the next round,” McMur­ray said. “He was ahead on one restart and I’d be ahead on the next, so that was a fun bat­tle.” WIN AND IN >> McMur­ray, Dillon, Ste­wart and Buescher can only guar­an­tee a clinch with a win. Each could clinch with­out a win, but would need vary­ing lev­els of help. FIRST IS TOPS >> Ke­selowski took pride in start­ing first on points be­cause it mean his Team Penske has the been the best this late into the sea­son.

“It’s cer­tainly still some­thing to be very proud of, this far into the sea­son and be­ing the points leader,” he said.

JIM COLE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Brad Ke­selowski gets ready to prac­tice for a race at New Hamp­shire Mo­tor Speed­way in Loudon, N.H.

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