This week’s changes to qualifying procedures did not hurt Denny Hamlin’s strong start to the 2014 season. In Friday’s qualifying for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Hamlin posted a fast lap of 129.991 mph in his Fed-Ex Toyota Camry. Hamlin’s lap once again broke the track record, a feat that has become the norm in the Sprint Cup Series. Today’s pole was the 18th of Hamlin’s career, and his second at Bristol.
The changes that NASCAR implemented this week that eliminated the “cool down” laps that teams were using in the first three races of the season. Many teams, drivers and fans alike were raising concerns about the cool down laps due the significant difference in speed between them and cars that were on a full speed run. Drivers seemed to feel that there was no detrimental effects on their runs in regards to the changes.
Brad Keselowski’s terrific qualifying runs continued as he scored a second place startning spot. Keselwoski’s Penske Racing teammate, Joey Logano, ended up fourth at the end of the session.
Other notables: Matt Kenseth will start third, Jeff Gordon sixth, defending champion Jimmie Johnson will take the green in eleventh, and points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr will start 14th.
The green flag will fall on the Food City 500 Sunday at 1:00 pm local time.