Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR
Dale Earnhardt Jr., front, looks to follow up his win last week in Daytona with a solid showing in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway. Reuters

Brad Keselowski picked up the fourth pole of his career by conquering NASCAR’s new pole format ahead of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway.

Running a solid best lap of 139.384 mph, the Penske Racing star beat out the rest of the field after two rounds in the new knockout stage. Drivers no longer go out one at a time during the pole, but rather have 30 minutes to run their best lap with the top 12 then pitted against each other in a second 10-minute session to determine the ultimate pole victor.

NASCAR officials kept a watchful eye on all drivers for fear of teams intentionally blocking opponents during laps to slow down times, but the first-inception of the knockout format went off without a hitch.

Keselowski ‘s Penske teammate Joey Logano racked up the second fastest time, followed by veteran Jamie McMurray to round out the front row. Defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will start for the No. 4 position, and last week’s Daytona 500-winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be fifth.

Earnhardt Jr. put up a dominating performance at Daytona by leading for 54 laps, which was more than runner-up Denny Hamlin and third-place finisher Keselowski combined. Promptly following his first-ever win at Daytona, Earnhardt Jr. sent out his first-ever tweet via social media Web site Twitter. The post of course included a picture of the 39-year-old standing beside his new trophy.

Last year’s two winners in Phoenix were Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick and Fenway’s Carl Edwards. They’ll start Sunday at the No. 13 and No. 23 slots.

Johnson finished in the top three in both trips to Phoenix last season, despite only leading by two laps total.

Time: Sunday, 3 p.m. EST

TV Channel: FOX

Starting Grid

1.Brad Keselowski

2.Joey Logano

3.Jamie McMurray

4.Jimmie Johnson

5.Dale Earnhardt Jr.

6.Greg Biffle

7.Kyle Busch

8.Kyle Larson

9.Aric Almirola

10.Kurt Busch

11.Kasey Kahne

12.Denny Hamlin

13.Kevin Harvick

14.Clint Bowyer

15.Ryan Newman

16.Brian Vickers

17.Jeff Gordon

18.Casey Mears

19.Matt Kenseth

20.Tony Stewart

21.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

22.Paul Menard

23.Carl Edwards

24.Austin Dillon

25.AJ Allmendinger

26.Michael McDowell

27.Martin Truex Jr.

28.David Gilliland

29.Marcos Ambrose

30.David Ragan

31.Cole Whitt

32.Brian Scott

33.Danica Patrick

34.Ryan Truex

35.Alex Bowman

36.Parker Kligerman

37.Blake Koch

38.Joe Nemechek

39.Reed Sorenson

40.Travis Kvapil

41.Michael Annett

42.Morgan Shepherd

43.Justin Allgaier