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