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Hamlin On Pole At Bristol

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, March 14 2014

Denny Hamlin held off Brad Keselowski had fast days in Bristol Friday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Rusty Jarrett)

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Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing got around the .533-mile banked oval in 14.761 seconds, 129.991 mph, breaking the mark held by Kyle Busch (14.813, 129.535) to earn the 18th pole of his career.

“It’s faster than I ever imagined going around this track,” Hamlin said.

Hamlin, who said he expects more track records to fall this season thanks to NASCAR’s relaxing of height restrictions and additional downforce on the 2014 cars, finished second in the Daytona 500 and 12th last week at Las Vegas after settling for 19th at Phoenix.

“The intermediate (mile-and-a-half) stuff will come,” Hamlin said. “This, obviously, doesn’t fix anything from last week. This is a totally different beast.

“(At) short tracks we can make up a little bit here and there with mechanical grip being the biggest factor. But we’ll get that other stuff figured out. We had a great debrief on Vegas and that’s what it takes — to continue to communicate.”

Hamlin said he’d rather see his team struggle early in the season to work out the kinks than in September or August.

“I’m OK with easing into the year, figuring out where we need to be and finding that in the summer months,” he said.

Joe Gibbs Racing took three of the first seven qualifying spots with Matt Kenseth third and Busch seventh.

Once again, Team Penske had an exceptional qualifying session, threatening to sweep the front row for the third consecutive week with Keselowski second and Joey Logano fourth.

What’s been the secret to Team Penske’s fast Fords?

“Black magic,” Keselowski joked. “I don’t think there’s any big secret to it. If you’re fast, you’re fast.”

Tony Stewart, coming off a disappointing 33rd at Las Vegas, failed to edge Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Danica Patrick, who was the 36th and final driver to qualify for Sunday’s race on time. Stewart relied on owner’s points to make the field, as did Brian Vickers, who has four consecutive top-10 finishes in NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Bristol.

Travis Kvapil, Ryan Truex, Parker Kligerman (with a car repaired after a practice mishap), Joe Nemechek and Timmy Hill also made the field based on owner’s points. David Reutimann and Dave Blaney failed to make the cut.

Starting Grid Grid

Bristol Motor Speedway

Friday, March 14, 2014

1. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 129.991 mph.

2. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 129.965 mph.

3. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 129.073 mph.

4. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 128.830 mph.

5. (9) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 128.727 mph.

6. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 128.245 mph.

7. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 128.159 mph.

8. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 127.946 mph.

9. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 127.801 mph.

10. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 127.690 mph.

11. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 127.385 mph.

12. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 127.073 mph.

13. (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 128.322 mph.

14. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 128.271 mph.

15. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 128.245 mph.

16. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 128.236 mph.

17. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 128.168 mph.

18. (26) Cole Whitt #, Toyota, 127.929 mph.

19. (34) David Ragan, Ford, 127.903 mph.

20. (42) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, 127.792 mph.

21. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 127.682 mph.

22. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 127.648 mph.

23. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 127.605 mph.

24. (95) Michael McDowell, Ford, 127.605 mph.

25. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 127.597 mph.

26. (3) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 127.529 mph.

27. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 127.444 mph.

28. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 127.436 mph.

29. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 127.351 mph.

30. (51) Justin Allgaier #, Chevrolet, 127.343 mph.

31. (40) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 127.182 mph.

32. (98) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 127.174 mph.

33. (23) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 127.165 mph.

34. (7) Michael Annett #, Chevrolet, 126.896 mph.

35. (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 126.645 mph.

36. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 126.628 mph.

37. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Owner Points

38. (55) Brian Vickers, Toyota, Owner Points

39. (32) Travis Kvapil, Ford, Owner Points

40. (83) Ryan Truex #, Toyota, Owner Points

41. (30) Parker Kligerman #, Toyota, Owner Points

42. (66) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, Owner Points

43. (33) Timmy Hill, Chevrolet, Owner Points

2 drivers failed to qualify.

44. (35) David Reutimann, Ford, 126.620 mph.

45. (77) Dave Blaney, Ford, 125.166 mph.

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Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, March 14 2014
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