LAS VEGAS -- Less than two days in town and the odds are already in Brad Keselowski's favor.
Keselowski, the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion, was able to cash in on one of the few perks that carry over to the next year when he earned the top starting position in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Persistent rain washed out Cup qualifying and Sunday's field was set by 2012 car owner points, which leaves Keselowski and 2012 runner-up Clint Bowyer sharing the front row.
"I was just thinking, with this being Vegas and all, what the odds would be of a rainout in Vegas? I bet that was pretty high," Keselowski said Friday.
"Obviously, whenever you can start up front it is a big deal and you get the first pit stall and all those things that make a big difference on pit road.
"The way our car has been running the last two weeks, and off of what I saw in practice (Thursday), I feel like we are in position to hopefully keep that for a very long time in the race and hopefully close it out."
Keselowski and his No.?2 Penske Racing team are off to their best start since he joined the organization in 2010 with a pair of fourth-place finishes.
In 2010, he was 28th in the series standings after two races. In 2011, he was 29th and last season he was 12th.
"We have been really close the last two weeks. We were in position to win and just came up a little bit short," Keselowski said. "Hopefully, this will be the catalyst we need to close it out."
The Cup series got several hours of practice on Thursday in large part because Sunday's race is the first for the new Cup series car on a 1.5-mile speedway -- the most common size track during the season.
In Keselowski's case, however, the car he used on track Thursday is not the one he will run in the race on Sunday. That was true for probably close to 50 percent of the teams that participated in the test.
With no practice and qualifying on Friday, that leaves Saturday practice as the only meaningful time Keselowski will get in this weekend's car.
The time on the track, he said, was still beneficial.
"I am very thankful we had the test day. That is a big deal for us to not go into Sunday blind. I am glad that worked out," Keselowski said.
"For us, the car we tested is not the same as what we will run here on Sunday. Certainly, we would like to have all the track time we can get but it is the same for everybody. It is the same circumstances and just a matter of how you adapt to them."
The same can be said of Keselowski's starting position on Sunday. The last time he started a Cup race out front was when he won the pole in 2011 for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"I think that track position in this sport has always been important and is becoming increasingly important the last few years. I don't want to under sell the history of the sport to that regard," Keselowski said.
"It was certainly not easy to make those passes last week. I am not going to assume that it will be this week. Thankfully, I don't have to as it pertains to the start of the race."
The Lineup for the Kobalt Tools 400 At Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nev.:
Pos. No. Driver Car Speed
1. 2 Brad Keselowski Ford OwnPts
2. 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota OwnPts
3. 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy OwnPts
4. 5 Kasey Kahne Chevy OwnPts
5. 16 Greg Biffle Ford OwnPts
6. 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota OwnPts
7. 17 R. Stenhouse, Jr. Ford OwnPts
8. 29 Kevin Harvick Chevy OwnPts
9. 14 Tony Stewart Chevy OwnPts
10. 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy OwnPts
11. 56 Martin Truex, Jr.. Toyota OwnPts
12. 88 D. Earnhardt, Jr. Chevy OwnPts
13. 18 Kyle Busch Toyota OwnPts
14. 39 Ryan Newman Chevy OwnPts
15. 55 Mark Martin Toyota OwnPts
16. 99 Carl Edwards Ford OwnPts
17. 27 Paul Menard Chevy OwnPts
18. 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota OwnPts
19. 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford OwnPts
20. 31 Jeff Burton Chevy OwnPts
21. 22 Joey Logano Ford OwnPts
22. 43 Aric Almirola Ford OwnPts
23. 1 Jamie McMurray Chevy OwnPts
24. 78 Kurt Busch Chevy OwnPts
25. 42 Juan P. Montoya Chevy OwnPts
26. 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota OwnPts
27. 51 Austin Dillon Chevy OwnPts
28. 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota OwnPts
29. 34 David Ragan Ford OwnPts
30. 13 Casey Mears Ford OwnPts
31. 38 David Gilliland Ford OwnPts
32. 83 David Reutimann Toyota OwnPts
33. 7 Dave Blaney Chevy OwnPts
34. 32 Ken Schrader Ford OwnPts
35. 36 J.J. Yeley Chevy OwnPts
36. 21 Trevor Bayne Ford OwnPts
37. 10 Danica Patrick Chevy OwnPts
38. 30 David Stremme Toyota OwnPts
39. 98 M. McDowell Ford OwnPts
40. 95 Scott Speed Ford Attempts
41. 33 Landon Cassill Chevy Attempts
42. 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota Attempts
43. 35 Josh Wise Ford Attempts
(c)2013 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)
Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at www.charlotteobserver.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services