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NSCS: Keselowski Takes Pole In First Ever Knock-Out Qualifying Session

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Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR

By Kyle Brandt – Editor in Chief

Feb. 28, 2014

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Quite possibly the most anticipated on-track session of the entire season, NASCAR’s new “knock-out” style qualifying made it’s Sprint Cup Series debut Friday evening at the Phoenix International Raceway- and became an instant hit.

Continuing a dominant day on the speed charts, Brad Keselowski went out midway through the second and final qualifying session and found just enough speed to best his Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano, and set a new track record on the way to securing the pole for Sunday’s The Profit on CNBC 500.

Just his fourth career Sprint Cup Series pole, the 2012 series champion had a disappointing season in 2013 and missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup altogether and was unable to defend his series crown. Looking at 2014 as his year redemption, the Michigan native finished third in the season opening Daytona 500 last week, and the momentum has clearly carried over to Phoenix.

As the track opened for the first session, the exit of pit road resembled a shopping mall parking lot on Black Friday as drivers wanted to be the first on the track and record a lap with the least amount of traffic around them as possible. The Team Penske duo of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski jumped to the top of the charts immediately- before an accident in turn three involving Justin Allgaier spurred a red flag just over two minutes in.

With the hot Arizona sun beating down on the one-mile track, drivers were content to log laps early in the session and then return to pit road to see where their times stood in the closing minutes and re-assess if needed. For those who did venture on to the track during the middle section of the first segment, logging laps at a slow rate of speed with no tape on the grille was the order of business to cool their engines.

Although most were unable to improve on their earlier times, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray made late-session charges and found enough speed to move on to the second and final session.

Starting Lineup for The Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix

Pos Driver Team Time Speed
1 Brad Keselowski Alliance Truck Parts Ford 25.828 139.384
2 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 25.850 139.265
3 Jamie McMurray Cessna / Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet 25.905 138.969
4 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Chevrolet 26.021 138.350
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 26.022 138.344
6 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 26.023 138.339
7 Kyle Busch Skittles Toyota 26.027 138.318
8 Kyle Larson # Clorox Chevrolet 26.027 138.318
9 Aric Almirola Farmland Ford 26.034 138.281
10 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 26.078 138.047
11 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 26.108 137.889
12 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 26.217 137.315
13 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John’s Chevrolet 26.122 137.815
14 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 26.123 137.810
15 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 26.126 137.794
16 Brian Vickers Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota 26.127 137.788
17 Jeff Gordon Pepsi MAX Chevrolet 26.136 137.741
18 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 26.165 137.588
19 Matt Kenseth Home Depot / Husky Toyota 26.173 137.546
20 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet 26.185 137.483
21 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. NOS Ford 26.187 137.473
22 Paul Menard Pittsburgh Paints / Menards Chevrolet 26.211 137.347
23 Carl Edwards SUBWAY Ford 26.236 137.216
24 Austin Dillon # American Ethanol Chevrolet 26.239 137.200
25 AJ Allmendinger Clorox Fraganzia Chevrolet 26.243 137.179
26 Michael McDowell K Love Ford 26.265 137.065
27 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 26.296 136.903
28 David Gilliland Love’s Travel Stops Ford 26.303 136.867
29 Marcos Ambrose MAC Tools Ford 26.317 136.794
30 David Ragan Farm Rich Ford 26.318 136.789
31 Cole Whitt # GEAR Speed Stick Toyota 26.330 136.726
32 Brian Scott(i) Whitetail Chevrolet 26.331 136.721
33 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 26.365 136.545
34 Ryan Truex # Borla Exhaust Toyota 26.495 135.875
35 Alex Bowman # Dr Pepper Toyota 26.546 135.614
36 Parker Kligerman #  Toyota 26.591 135.384
37 Blake Koch(i) MDS Transport Ford Owner Points 135.262
38 Joe Nemechek(i) Land Castle Title Toyota Owner Points 134.983
39 Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet Owner Points 134.897
40 Travis Kvapil Ask More – Get More Ford Owner Points 134.771
41 Michael Annett # Accell Construction Chevrolet Owner Points 134.148
42 Morgan Shepherd(i) Morris – Hardwick – Schneider Toyota Owner Points 128.995
43 Justin Allgaier # Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet Owner Points 0.000
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About Kyle Brandt

Kyle Brandt is a co-owner and the Managing Editor at Rubbings Racing. He can be followed on Twitter (@kbrandtMRS) for the latest motorsports updates and information.

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