Brad Keselowski led a 1-2-3 sweep of Fords in Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Friday at Michigan International Speedway, a long-running venue of friendly competition among NASCAR’s manufacturers.
The automaker rivalry got a slight bit chippier after qualifying for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) when Keselowski suggested that Toyota teams had intentionally ratcheted back their collective push of the performance envelope.
Toyota had won the last five pole positions in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series before Keselowski interrupted that streak. In his post-qualifying news conference, the Team Penske driver intimated that the likelihood of rigorous technical inspections loomed after Michigan, the last track of its size before the postseason.
“About this time every year NASCAR takes all the cars to kind of check to make sure that the competitive balance is where they want it to be, and I think we’ve seen the last two or three weeks that the Toyota cars are pretty dominant,” Keselowski said. “We had a strong suspicion that those guys would kind of tune it down this weekend, so not to post a pretty big number in inspection that maybe balanced back out the competition, and potentially that’s right because our team hasn’t done much differently and those guys are just not as fast as they’ve been the last few weeks.
“So we’ll know for certain at the end of the week based on whether NASCAR takes the cars after the race today.”
Those remarks did not sit well with drivers and crew chiefs in the Toyota camp, who sounded off through their social media channels.
— Martin Truex Jr. (@MartinTruex_Jr) August 11, 2017
#Fakenews by someone trying to control the rhetoric
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 11, 2017
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) August 11, 2017
— Cole Pearn (@colepearn) August 11, 2017