First pole of the year for Hamlin at Bristol

Image by Thacker/LAT

First pole of the year for Hamlin at Bristol

NASCAR

First pole of the year for Hamlin at Bristol

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Denny Hamlin knew he had a shot at the pole based on how the Friday practices had gone at Bristol, and he wound up being correct.

Hamlin scored his — and Toyota’s — first pole of the season with a lap of 129.230 mph (14.848 seconds). One of the last drivers to get on track for single-car qualifying, the pole is the 31st of Hamlin’s career and fourth at Bristol.

He will be joined on the front row by Kyle Larson who qualified his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet second at 129.004 mph. Third quickest was Martin Truex Jr. (JGR Toyota) at 128.995 mph.

Completing the top five were defending race winner Kurt Busch at 128.813 mph and Aric Almirola (in the fastest of the Fords) at 128.770 mph. Chase Elliott was sixth quick at 128.580 mph.

Matt DiBenedetto backed up his speed in final practice by qualifying seventh. He peeled off a fast lap of 128.460 mph and even enjoyed some time at the top of the leaderboard. Last week’s winner at Michigan, Kevin Harvick was eighth fastest at 128.434 mph.

Erik Jones at 128.391 mph and Alex Bowman at 128.236 mph rounded out the top 10.

Coming from deeper in the field will be the three Team Penske drivers, from 11th (Joey Logano), 12th (Ryan Blaney), and 13th (Ryan Blaney). Ryan Newman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. filled out the top 15.

Daniel Suarez qualified 18th and Clint Bowyer 20th. The Stewart-Haas Racing teammates enter the weekend fighting for the final spot on the playoff grid.

William Byron was 21st and Jimmie Johnson 30th. Eight-time Bristol winner Kyle Busch qualified 31st.

STARTING LINEUP

UP NEXT: Bass Pro Shops / NRA Night Race at Bristol at 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday.

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