Mar 14, 2014, 6:22 PM EDT
Denny Hamlin spoiled the bid by Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski to share the starting front row for the third straight race during Friday’s Sprint Cup qualifying for Sunday’s Food City 500.
Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry set a new Bristol Motor Speedway qualifying record with a speed of 129.991 mph (at 14.761 seconds).
It marked was the third straight Sprint Cup race this season that a new track qualifying mark has been set.
“It’s fast, faster than I ever imagined going around this track,” Hamlin said. “Darian (crew chief Darian Grubb) just made an excellent call with our adjustments and the team stepped up. … We thought it was going to be one and done for us, one good effort in that final round.”
Keselowski went out for a last-ditch attempt and rallied to knock off Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth, from the outside pole with a lap of 129.965 mph (14.764 seconds).
“Denny did a great job,” Keselowski said. “My team did a great job and another front row start. That’s always good at Bristol because track position is important.
“But more important than track position is pit stall selection, so we’ll get a good pit stall out of that and go racing to the front.”
Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano have owned pole qualifying in the last two races. Keselowski took the pole and Logano was second at Phoenix, while it was reversed last week at Las Vegas, with Logano qualifying first and Keselowski second.
Kenseth will start Sunday’s race third (129.073 mph), Logano fourth (128.830) and Marcos Ambrose came through with a stout (128.727) effort.
Current Sprint Cup Series leader and Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 14th (128.271).
Here’s the starting grid and each driver’s qualifying speed for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Food City 500:
Denny Hamlin 129.991, Brad Keselowski 129.965
Matt Kenseth 129.073, Joey Logano 128.830
Marcos Ambrose 128.727, Jeff Gordon 128.245
Kurt Busch 128.322, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 128.271
Tony Stewart 126.545, Brian Vickers 126.445
Travis Kvapil 126.303, Ryan Truex 125.363
Timmy Hill 122.084
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