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Matt Kenseth claims Sprint Cup pole in Fontana

Matt Kenseth celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the first of two NASCAR Sprint Cup series qualifying auto races at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Matt Kenseth celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the first of two NASCAR Sprint Cup series qualifying auto races at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

FONTANA, Calif. – Matt Kenseth won the pole for the Sprint Cup race at Fontana, edging Brad Keselowski in a knockout qualifying session yesterday dominated by now-familiar faces.

Kenseth won his first pole of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing by turning a lap at 187.315 mph, beating Keselowski’s 187.105.

Five-time Fontana champion Jimmie Johnson was third at 38.516, followed by Kevin Harvick. Clint Bowyer came in fifth.

The drivers emerged from the fourth edition of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying format with more praise for the fan-friendly style. Keselowski improved his time in each round, adding to Team Penske’s list of impressive qualifying finishes this season.

Kenseth has won three times at Fontana, most recently in 2009.

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