Hamlin on the pole, Bowyer to start 15th at Bristol

Published On: Mar 15 2014 01:19:32 AM CDT

NASCAR via Getty Images

NASCAR adjusted the rules for its new knock out qualifying earlier this week and the changes seemed to agree with Denny Hamlin. The number 11 Toyota grabbed his first pole under the new qualifying format as he will lead the field to green at this weekend’s race in Bristol.

“It obviously gives you a great start to the weekend for obvious reasons -- it’s been documented and every pole winner says that the number one pit stall and all the good stuff that comes with it.,” said Hamlin “Ultimately, our job is to get our car better for race trim tomorrow and I was really pleased with it today in race trim.  The qualifying stuff kind of caught us a little off guard.”

Hamlin set a new track record of 129.991 mph. Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, and Joey Logano round out the first two rows.

Kansas native Clint Bowyer qualified 15th.

“My assessment is that I wasn’t fast enough, said Bowyer.  “It’s really cool I think as a fan of all this, I think it’s really exciting to see the knock outs and trying to keep track of all this mayhem is a lot of fun.  We were just a little bit off.  The difference between a little bit off and a lot off is not much -- you’re talking hundredths or thousandths of a second on a track like this.”