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Keselowski Draws Pole For NASCAR's Return To Darlington On Sunday

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Keselowski draws pole for NASCAR's return to Darlington

by MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer

This March 8, 2020 photo shows Brad Keselowski during driver introductions prior to the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Brad Keselowski celebrated his first pole win of the season — and perhaps the most memorable of his career — from afar.

After waiting nearly a full hour Thursday evening, the Team Penske driver watched NASCAR's chief scorer Kyle McKinney finally pluck the No. 1 ball out of a random draw — giving the 2012 series champion the top starting position when the Cup season resumes Sunday at Darlington Raceway.

“1st. Woooooo," Keselowski wrote on Twitter.


He will be joined on the front row by Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports. Matt DiBenedetto, Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola close out the top five starting spots.

For some, NASCAR's revised system worked like a dream. Keselowski, the 2018 Southern 500 winner, jumped from 10th in the standings to first on the 36-car starting grid.

For others, like points leader Kevin Harvick, things didn't end up so well. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver drew the No. 6 slot.

And aside from the luck of the draw, there was nothing the drivers could do except wait, watch and hope.

Series officials split the drivers into three groups of 12 based on points, filling spots 1-12, 13-24 and 25-36 with a random draw. Now, without qualifications, practice runs or fans, those cars will line up on one of NASCAR's most prestigious tracks for the first major race since March


Get those machines ready.#NASCARIsBack

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Most have spent their time, especially the last couple of weeks, using simulators to prepare.

“To be honest with you, I kind of get sick in the thing." Clint Bowyer told the television audience before drawing the No. 13 starting spot. “So I’ve been working on things like the entrance to pit road, something that is very, very difficult at this track. It’s going to be a green race track and that’s something everybody’s going to deal with.”

The focus won't just be on the lead pack.

Ryan Newman will make his first start since a frightening crash at the season-opening Daytona 500. The Roush Fenway Racing driver was cleared to drive following a run at, yes, Darlington and will start 21st.

Two-time Daytona 500 winner and 2003 series champion Matt Kenseth will return to the track for the first time since November 2018 after coming out of retirement to replace the fired Kyle Larson for Chip Ganassi's team. He drew the No. 12 slot.

“Race week is here! In some ways I feel like I did my rookie year mostly because I just had to wait on @DaleJr," Kenseth posted on his Twitter account earlier this week.


Race week is here! In some ways I feel like I did my rookie year… mostly because I just had to wait on @DaleJr who showed up 10 minutes late to his own podcast.

View image on Twitter

Each car will carry the name of a front-line worker during the COVID-19 pandemic, and after weeks of waiting to race, things will rev up in a harry.

Series officials also announced Tuesday they had expanded the schedule to include 20 races between Sunday and late June — nine in the elite Cup Series.

Now, after taking the first step toward racing since early March, the drivers are eager for the biggest restart yet.

“Heck yeah, let’s go," said Austin Dillon, the Richard Childress driver who will start 16th. “Just happy to be getting back out on the track.                                         SEE VIDEO, TWEETS      ;    https://wjactv.com/news/entertainment/keselowski-draws-pole-for-nascars-return-to-darlington                                                      SUNDAY - MAY 17   3:30 PM on FOX

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NASCAR releases late May, June slate of races in the South

William Byron is excited for NASCAR's return at Darlington

The Hendrick Motorsports driver tells Fox News Autos he hopes things go well at the first race of the restarted NASCAR season.

It will be a summer in the South for NASCAR: The stock car series announced Thursday it will stick to Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Florida and Alabama for June races — all of them without fans.


NASCAR has now set plans for 20 races — including nine in the elite Cup Series — as it returns to the tracks after being shut down for more than two months by concerns about the coronavirus.


Bristol Motor Speedway will hold a Cup Series race on May 31.

Bristol Motor Speedway will hold a Cup Series race on May 31. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The Cup Series is scheduled to resume this Sunday at Darlington Raceway and run four times in 11 days at the South Carolina track and at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

Then NASCAR will go to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on May 31. The track is roughly three hours' driving distance for most of the Charlotte-area based teams. Some drivers could fly privately to the track via helicopter.

NASCAR will then race at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the Truck Series and Xfinity Series on June 6 and the Cup Series on June 7. The track in Hampton, Ga., is at least a four-hour drive and teams could need hotels.

The Cup Series will race for a third time on a Wednesday night at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia on June 10.

Then all three national series will run together and require air travel with two full days at Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida. The Truck Series and Xfinity Series will race June 13, then the Xfinity Series will run again on June 14 in a warm-up for the Cup Series.

NASCAR will then go to Talladega Superspeedway with the ARCA Series and the Xfinity Series racing June 20 and Cup on June 21. The teams can drive to the Alabama speedway but many might use hotels.


NASCAR postponed events at Kansas Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, the Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio and the Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The Xfinity race at Iowa Speedway scheduled for June 13 has been moved to Homestead on June 14.                                                                                                                                                  SEE VIDEO REPORT        ;    https://www.foxnews.com/auto/nascar-may-june-races-south

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