MORE: See all 43 cars for Sunday's race " Complete lineup for Sunday FORT WORTH, Texas—As a driver who likely must win one of the next two races to keep his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title prospects alive, Brad Keselowski took a giant step in the right direction during Friday's knockout qualifying session at Texas Motor Speedway . The 2012 series champion covered the 1.5-mile distance at a speed of 196.929 mph in the money round to win the pole for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. ET on NBC/Live Extra, PRN, SiriusXM), the second of three races in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The Coors Light Pole Award was Keselowski's first at Texas, his third of the season and the 11th of his career. It was also the third pole in the last four races for Team Penske . The driver of the No. 2 Ford posted the fastest time in each of the three knockout rounds. Kevin Harvick (195.993 mph) qualified second, followed by Kyle Busch (195.716 mph) and Joey Logano (195.419 mph), as Chase drivers claimed the top four spots on the grid. However, Keselowski and Logano, embroiled in catastrophe and controversy last week at Martinsville Speedway , are on decidedly different agendas from those of Busch and Harvick, who are tied for second and fourth, respectively, in the Chase standings. "This is a good start, but our ultimate goal is to be the fastest at the end of the race on Sunday," Keselowski said. "It's a good start, and it gets us up front with a great pit stall, and hopefully we can make the most of it. "I'm pumped about this race. Track position is important everywhere, and here isn't as much as maybe a few others, because the track wears out, and you see some comers and goers with the way the track wears out—but we will still take it." Keselowski and Penske teammate Logano are sixth and eighth, respectively, among the eight drivers still eligible for the championship. "I think, if you're not in the top five right now, you're in a must-win situation," Keselowski said. "Thankfully, we started out in the right situation with being fast. We feel like we’ll be really strong next week at Phoenix as well. "So all signs point to us having a very strong opportunity to win one of the next two." Non-chase drivers took the fifth and sixth starting spots, with Kyle Larson qualifying on the inside of the third row and Erik Jones , subbing for suspended Matt Kenseth , grabbing the sixth position on the grid. Kenseth must sit out the next two races for wrecking Logano last Sunday at Martinsville. "Sixth is a really good effort for us," Jones said. "We made the final round at Kansas as well (in relief of injured Kyle Busch in May), so it's cool to make the final round in both our starts. "We'll see where it goes from here. Obviously we've got a long ways to go yet for Sunday—500 miles. This definitely helps everybody's confidence a little bit for that." Kurt Busch , who also needs a win to stay in the Sprint Cup title hunt, will start seventh. Chase driver Carl Edwards qualified 13th, missing the cutoff for the final round by .004 seconds. Jeff Gordon , who secured a spot in the Nov. 22 Championship Round race at Homestead-Miami Speedway by winning at Martinsville, will start 18th. Martin Truex Jr . will take the green flag from the deepest position in the field among Chase drivers—23rd. Danica Patrick posted a season-best 11th-place qualifying effort.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Brad Keselowski maintained all weekend that in order to win his second Sprint Cup Series championship, he was going to need to win two of the next three races. The 2012 champion got his one loss out of the way early. Keselowski's No. 2 Ford Fusion was the beginning, middle and end of the story of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway , dominating the field from the pole to a tune of 312 of 334 laps led -- but a second-place finish resulted after being passed by race-winner Jimmie Johnson on the final run of the afternoon. "We need to win the next two. I understand that. But I think we have a great opportunity to do it, as well," said Keselowski . " … We know if we keep running like we have the last two weeks, you know, we'll win races." Throughout the race, it appeared the only thing capable of stopping the No. 2 was a looming potential tire issue -- something many heavy hitters, including his teammate, Joey Logano , experienced -- but the changes his and Johnson's teams made during the last round of pit stops shifted the performance tide greatly. RELATED: Tire issues crop up early at Texas Keselowski did all he could to hold off Johnson, but the speed of the No. 48 and a potential alignment shift after contact with Martin Truex Jr .'s No. 78 -- which the Team Penske driver admitted, "probably didn't help either of us," -- allowed the six-time champion to take the lead with four laps to go and maintain the position. Despite the contact, Keselowski had nothing but kind words, post-race, concerning the wheelman of the No. 78. Heck of a job. Pleasure racing hard with you as well. If @Team_Penske can't win the championship, I hope you do. https://t.co/tnZHAifcDs — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) November 9, 2015 "The 48 car had mega turn that last run and I couldn't keep the turn and it kept pushing real bad. I did everything I could to hold him off but he was way faster that last run," Keselowski said. "Their team did a hell of a job and found speed and my team did a hell of a job, too. We led 300-some laps and these debris yellows always favor someone and it wasn't our day for them to favor us. "… We had damn near a flawless day … I'm sure we could have done something different. I don't know if I could have, but we could have. We'll have to go to work and try to figure it out." Johnson, whose victory gives him a certifiable monopoly on the Texas fall race with four trips to Victory Lane in a row, mentioned that he "just kept trying to put pressure on ( Keselowski ) hoping for a mistake," but it was evident that a mistake wasn't even needed. Keselowski did not err, he just didn't possess the car necessary on the final run to land in the winner's circle and lock himself into the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks. As it stands, Keselowski is sixth in points and 19 behind fourth-place Truex. As he noted, a win will likely be needed to advance. If he does, the No. 2 car could be the odds-on favorite. Homestead and Texas share many similarities and teams will be using the same Goodyear tire run Sunday at the Fort Worth track. "As strong as we ran today, if we carry that over to Homestead, good Lord, watch out," he said. "We know we need to win the next two to win the championship. The good news is we have that opportunity. That's the way I look at it."
RELATED: Full race results FORT WORTH, Texas — Brad Keselowski 's love affair with the Lone Star State continued in full force on Saturday with a hard-fought NASCAR XFINITY Series victory in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway . Keselowski grabbed the lead from Coors Light Polesitter Austin Dillon on Lap 189 of 200 after a restart with 16 laps left in the race. The No. 22 Team Penske Ford finished 1.137 seconds ahead of the No. 88 JR Motorsports entry driven by Kevin Harvick , who passed Dillon for the runner-up spot with four laps left. The victory was Keselowski's second of the season, his second at the 1.5-mile speedway and the 34th of his career. The eighth win of the season for the No. 22 Ford (accomplished by Keselowski and teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney ) clinched the third straight XFINITY Series owner's championship for Roger Penske. "To get our team owner, Roger Penske, No. 4 as far as XFINITY championships go, I'm really proud of that," said Keselowski , who also won a series title as a driver in 2010. "When I came to ( Team Penske ) in 2010, we didn't have any, and now we have four in five years, so I'm really proud of that accomplishment." In his last four starts at Texas, Keselowski has won twice and finished second twice. In his last 12 XFINITY Series starts at the Cowtown track, Keselowski has posted 11 finishes of seventh or better. Victory Lane, however, hardly seemed a likely destination for Keselowski in the early going. Harvick and Kyle Busch dominated the opening laps and came to pit road running 1-2, respectively, for pit stops under caution on Lap 79. But a broken shifter proved Busch's undoing, as his No. 54 Toyota was limited to fourth gear and fell out of the running for the victory. Under that same caution, the second of the race, Harvick returned to pit road twice because of a loose wheel and spent the bulk of a subsequent 34-lap green-flag run regaining the positions he lost. Kyle Larson also took a turn at the front of the field, leading 50 laps before a tire rub finally popped his left rear on Lap 176 and sent his No. 42 Chevrolet spinning through the tri-oval and out of the lead, handing the top spot to Harvick, who was in close pursuit. Harvick came to pit road with the lead but left in third place under caution on Lap 181, leaving Keselowski and Dillon to battle for the top position after a restart on Lap 185. "First off, Austin Dillon was really good and he was one of the toughest guys to beat," Keselowski said in Victory Lane. "He ran a heck of a race. Harvick looked really good, Kyle Busch looked really good and Kyle Larson I thought was going to run away with the race until he had that flat. "There was a lot of competition out there today, and that makes this win very special for the whole Discount Tire Ford team." Erik Jones ran fourth behind Keselowski , Harvick and Austin Dillon , with Ty Dillon taking the fifth spot. Chris Buescher came home 11th but moved closer to the series title. With two races left, he leads eighth-place finisher and reigning series champ Chase Elliott by 24 points. "It isn't comfortable yet," Buescher warned. "It is a cushion that we have, and I guess you average that out to 12 spots per race, so if we go out and finish top-10 the last two, we should be in good shape. "That would be cutting it too close for comfort, but we need to just have some solid runs the next two weeks." Kevin Harvick snagged the runner-up position, finishing just behind fellow Cup-regular Keselowski . Kevin Harvick snagged the runner-up position, finishing just behind fellow Cup-regular Keselowski .
RELATED: Practice 1 results Brad Keselowski rose to the top of the leaderboard in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday at Texas Motor Speedway . Keselowski drove the Team Penske No. 2 Ford to a best lap of 197.059 mph around the 1.5-mile track in preparation for Sunday's AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM), the eighth of 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Defending series champion Kevin Harvick , driving the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet, was second-fastest in the 85-minute session, clocking a fast lap of 196.421 mph. Carl Edwards , a three-time Texas winner, was third-best at 196.249 in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota. Kyle Larson , Chip Ganassi Racing 's second-year driver, was fourth-fastest. Joey Logano , who had his three-race win streak snapped last weekend after a controversial run-in with rival Matt Kenseth , drove the Team Penske No. 22 Ford to the fifth-fastest lap. Erik Jones , the 19-year-old rookie subbing for the suspended Kenseth in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota, was eighth-fastest in first practice as he readies for his second career Sprint Cup start. Jeff Gordon , last week's winner at Martinsville and the first automatic qualifier for the championship finale Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway , was 19th-fastest. His Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet showed minor damage and tire smoke from the left-rear fender in the early stages of first practice. Jimmie Johnson , winner of two consecutive Texas events and four of the last six races in the Lone Star State, was 14th-fastest in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet. The rest of the Chase contenders: Kurt Busch (10th), Kyle Busch (11th), Martin Truex Jr . (20th). Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. ET.
Brad Keselowski is able to hold off fellow Sprint Cup drivers Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick in the final laps of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway to grab his 34th career XFINITY win
Jimmie Johnson makes a pass on the leader Brad Keselowski with 4 laps to go as he wins at Texas Motor Speedway.
Daniel Hemric is moving to Brad Keselowski Racing for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the team announced in its 2016 driver lineup. Hemric will pilot the No. 19 Ford F-150 with support from partners California Clean Power and Cequent, while Tyler Reddick will shift over to the No. 29 Ford F-150 with support from Cooper Standard. "Our main goal is to build off our momentum from 2015 and pursue a championship with two great full-time drivers," team owner Brad Keselowski said in a team release. "Both Tyler and Daniel have shown a lot of success on the race track and have more than earned this opportunity. We have two of the best drivers in the Series running on a full-time basis and I'm really happy about that and very optimistic about our future and chance for success in 2016." Keselowski will look to field a third team with a variety of drivers behind the wheel, according to the release. In 2015, the organization fielded two full-time teams with Reddick piloting the No. 19 Truck and a variety of drivers including Keselowski , Joey Logano , Ryan Blaney and Austin Theriault among those behind the wheel of the No. 29 Truck. Hemric, 24, is in his first full-time season in the series and competing for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors with NTS Motorsports. He is seventh in the standings with four top fives and 12 top 10s. Reddick, 19, is third in the point standings this year for BKR and has two wins on the season. "When the opportunity was available with Brad Keselowski Racing and all of our great partners, it seemed like a good deal for everyone concerned," Hemric said in a team release. "It's an honor to team up with Brad and to have common goals when you go to the race track: win races and put yourself in contention for a championship. To be able to insert yourself on a championship contending team and a team that has a solid baseline on what they need every weekend."
RELATED: Full race results from Talladega Brian Keselowski was all smiles on pit road after finishing 17th in the Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, as he debriefed with his team and chatted with those surrounding him. But under the smile lay a level of disappointment -- his chance at his first NASCAR major series victory in his first Truck start had faded away like his diminishing fuel cell, the culprit of Keselowski's demise in the final laps of the fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola. "I'm emotional. I'm really proud of how we ran," Keselowski said on pit road after the race. "I'm disappointed that it was probably my only chance. We'll see how it works out." Keselowski -- who is a crew chief for ARCA driver Matt Kurzejewski and part-time driver in the series -- seemed poised for victory, as he was lined up to restart fourth for a green-white-checkered attempt in a Ford owned by his brother Brad Keselowski . His performance throughout the day had shown brighter than his lack of experience behind the wheel of a truck, as he had battled back to the front after getting slapped with a pit road speeding penalty early, and even led 10 laps around the 2.66-mile track. "We worked our way through the pack really quick and I was like, 'Wow, that's good,' " Keselowski said. "… All of a sudden we're out in front of a pack and everybody is starting to pit and we're weaving our way through traffic and the 4 (of Erik Jones ) is with me and I'm like, 'We might be leading this thing.' " But determination can take a driver only so far. Prior to the restart, Keselowski made the disappointing trudge down pit road, his No. 29 truck fuel cell as dry as the Alabama asphalt. It was a moment that was heart sinking for Brad Keselowski Racing team owner and younger brother Brad Keselowski , who had given Brian the opportunity to pilot the No. 29 for injured Austin Theriault . "I really thought he was going to win it," Brad Keselowski said, tilting his head back in dismay in the Talladega garage after Saturday's Sprint Cup Series qualifying session. "… He did great, he really did. I was really happy to see him run up front, disappointed he didn't finish off, but he did everything I could ever ask him to and more." Brad Keselowski 's girlfriend Paige White tweeted at Brian after the race, saying that their motorcoach needed a new floor due to Brad's pacing during the Truck race. "You made him proud!" she said. Despite the finish that was marred with disappointment, Brian Keselowski 's strong showing at the superspeedway gave the 34-year-old driver one crucial element: confidence. "It kind of validated what I always thought -- that I could do it, I just never had a chance." Keselowski said. And win or not, its certainly a performance Keselowski hoped others were watching. "We had a really good truck," Keselowski said. "I hope I showed somebody I could do it."
Brad Keselowski posted a blog late Thursday evening indicating that a new driver will be behind the wheel of the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford -- his brother, Brian. The elder Keselowski will suit up for next Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM). The ride was opened up because the truck's full-time driver, Austin Theriault , was injured in an accident during the Rhino Linings 350 on Oct. 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . On short notice, Keselowski kept it close to home. Excited to announce the newest member of our @TeamBKR truck team, my brother @KeselowskiBrian . My blog on why now: http://t.co/zo1UG9xTIp — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) October 16, 2015 Brian was more than thrilled at the notion. I've been waiting most if my life to say this, I get to drive the #29 truck @TalladegaSuperS ! I'm so excited I can hardly stop smiling — Brian Keselowski (@KeselowskiBrian) October 16, 2015
RELATED: Kenseth says Logano should stop 'running his mouth' TALLADEGA, Ala. -- It has been The Joey Logano Show in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup over the past couple weeks, as the Team Penske driver has won two straight races in the Contender Round at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway . The yellow No. 22 seems to have regained its strength after its season-opening Daytona 500 victory, accumulating five wins that tie Matt Kenseth for a series-best in 2015. But as Logano celebrates in a shower of confetti, his Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski -- who hasn't won since March -- is left peering in from outside Victory Lane. "Bad Brad " has been relatively quiet this year without the post-race fireworks amid six victories last season, including one in the first race of the 2014 Chase at Chicagoland and the Talladega Chase race last year. Compared with Logano's handful of wins, particularly in recent weeks, the gap between the two begs the question: What's the No. 2 team missing? "I'm happy for Joey and his success, so I'm not discouraged by it," Keselowski said on Friday. "I feel like this sport cycles. ... Last year up until we had the issue at Martinsville, we had six wins, we had the most wins of anyone last year, and I felt my cars were probably some of the best in the garage, if not the best, and the last few weeks we haven't showcased that. "But I know it can cycle. It could cycle in the next three weeks." RELATED: Keselowski says drivers will 'race scared' at Talladega If he can survive Sunday's CampingWorld.com 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) the next three weeks will be the most crucial for Keselowski's No. 2 team, as he could be fighting for his second Sprint Cup Series championship. Keselowski's outlook remains positive – he has 21 top-10 finishes this season, including Auto Club Speedway victory. He also sat on the pole last week at Kansas and showed plenty of speed throughout the weekend during practice. It was something the No. 22 team noticed. "Are there things that (the No. 2 team members) lean on? No differently than we normally do," Logano's crew chief Todd Gordon said in the Talladega garage on Saturday. "... We used a lot of what the 2 car had last weekend. They had a lot of speed at Kansas in qualifying and practice. So we're always aware of those things." Logano and Keselowski are one of the more teamwork-minded duos in the garage, working together on-track more than many Cup team members. The same philosophy carries into the Team Penske shop meetings, Gordon says. "We share everything every week -- We're aware of what everyone is doing," Gordon said. "You have ebs and flows and I think there's been a couple things with this year and the way the races have played out that have played to Joey's strengths. You have come-and-go and momentum changes different ways. "I don't think the 2 car's got challenges ahead of them. They're definitely a title contender as well." For Keselowski , the title talk that surrounds his teammate and close friend doesn't diminish his own season – if anything, it's heartening as he heads into the foreboding Talladega and the rest of the season. "It's encouraging for me in the sense that we know we have the same potential that we just have to find it," Keselowski said. "I think our teams operate quite a bit differently and I would say it's probably encouraging for my team to try new things and to be better and expand. So I don't take any negative from it. I'm certainly not happy to not be winning as much as he is, but that's not a negative connotation. I think it's an opportunity more so than anything else. " ... I really feel like for our team that if we can get through this weekend, that we'll go all the way to Homestead."