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).
The news was not so good for four drivers who were forced to take provisionals to make the race: Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers, Travis Kvapil and Ryan Truex.
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
Kyle Busch 128.159, Greg Biffle 127.946
Ryan Newman 127.801, Kasey Kahne 127.690
Jimmie Johnson 127.385, Carl Edwards 127.073
Kurt Busch 128.322, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 128.271
Clint Bowyer 128.245, David Gilliland 128.236
Jamie McMurray 128.168, Cole Whitt 127.929
David Ragan 127.903, Kyle Larson 127.792
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 127.682, AJ Allmendinger 127.648
Aric Almirola 127.605, Michael McDowell 127.605
Casey Mears 127.597, Austin Dillon 127.529
Kevin Harvick 127.444, Paul Menard 127.436
Martin Truex Jr. 127.351, Justin Allgaier 127.343
Landon Cassill 127.182, Josh Wise 127.174
Alex Bowman 127.165, Michael Annett 126.896
Reed Sorenson 126.645, Danica Patrick 126.628
Tony Stewart 126.545, Brian Vickers 126.445
Travis Kvapil 126.303, Ryan Truex 125.363
Parker Kligerman 124.460, Joe Nemechek 122.537
Timmy Hill 122.084
Did not qualify: David Reutimann, Dave Blaney
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