NASCAR qualifying canceled by heavy rain

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Brad Keselowski will start on the pole after heavy rain forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying for Sunday’s race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The track got steady rain all morning Friday and again in the early afternoon after a brief break, forcing NASCAR to scrap practice and qualifying in Las Vegas for the first time. The speedway urged fans to take cover from rain, high wind and lightning when the afternoon storm broke over the desert north of the Strip.

“I was just thinking when I walked in, with this being Vegas and all, what the odds would be of a rainout in Vegas,” Keselowski said. “I bet that was pretty high.”

Sunday’s field will be set by points and the NASCAR rule book, giving the pole to last season’s Sprint Cup series champion. The top 36 spots are set by owners’ points from last year, with the rest filled out by points or qualifying attempts.

“That’s a really good deal,” said Keselowski, the first-time champ. “It’s one of the perks, I guess, of being the champion in the first few races. This is the first time I’ve had a decent starting position in a rainout.”

Mike Bliss will miss the race because of the cancellation of qualifying.

Keselowski will be on the front row alongside Clint Bowyer, last season’s second-place finisher. Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson and teammate Kasey Kahne will be in the second row.

Although the rain also forced the cancellation of Friday’s practice, no drivers seemed particularly concerned after going through Thursday’s open test of the new Gen-6 car.

“We had more than enough practice this weekend,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “So I’m not too worried about what we didn’t get to do today, because yesterday was way more than we needed, to be honest.”

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