Gary B. Graves
AP Sports Writer
SPARTA, Ky. — Rain returned to Kentucky Speedway on Friday, canceling qualifying for the Sprint Cup and Xfinity series races.
With the starting grids set on points, Kyle Larson will be on the pole beside Brad Keselowski for Saturday night’s 400-mile Cup race at the 1.5-mile track. It’s the second career pole for Larson, who had the fastest practice speed of 182.537 mph earlier in the day.
Though Keselowski is happy with his Ford in both series, he was disappointed at not getting to show its strength on the track.
“I felt like we had a shot at the pole in both races and didn’t get to qualify, so I’m a little bummed about that,” said Keselowski, the defending Cup race champion. “But I’m happy with the speed that we’ve shown so far.”
J.J. Yeley’s top speed of 174.967 mph in Thursday’s final practice earned the pole for Friday night’s 300-mile Xfinity race.
Two days of showers canceled tests of a new track-specific rules package for Cup teams. Practice and qualifying for Thursday’s Camping World Truck Series race were also washed out.
Cup drivers got on the track Friday morning for more than an hour before showers halted practice. Another session was held in the afternoon, with drivers adapting to rules that reduce downforce in hopes of creating more passing.
Rear spoilers were reduced from 6 to 3.5 inches with the front splitter expanded by 25 inches. An overhang was also reduced by 1.75 inches.
Even with limited practice, the package seems to be working for Larson.
“I was glad we got a little bit of track time,” he said. “We were quick off the truck, which I was really proud of my team for just because we haven’t had any laps on this new package. We were quick in race trim off the truck, and then we went back to mock qualifying trim and were really fast.”