Denny Hamlin will lead the field to the green flag at Talladega Superspeedway after grabbing the front row in NASCAR Cup Series qualifying.
Hamlin won the pole with a lap of 180.751 mph (52.979 seconds). It is Hamlin’s first pole in the Cup Series at Talladega and the first of the season for the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team. It is also the first time Hamlin has won a superspeedway pole on speed and not a metric.
“I was well aware,” Hamlin said. “Last year was a great opportunity because I think that all the Toyotas qualified really well on the superspeedways, and that’s kind of the nature of the body we submitted to NASCAR. We knew were going to be fast on these types of racetracks, but when we resubmitted this year, I think we got more of a balance. We knew it was going to slow us up on these tracks, but Toyota and those guys continue to make advances, and we get a little faster.”
Aric Almirola qualified second at 180.642 mph. Both Hamlin and Almirola are former Talladega winners.
Ty Gibbs qualified a career-best third at 180.594 mph. Chase Briscoe was fourth at 180.390 mph and Ryan Blaney completed the top five qualifiers at 180.258 mph.
Christopher Bell qualified sixth at 179.848 mph, Martin Truex Jr. took seventh at 179.726 mph, and Joey Logano was eighth at 179.666 mph. Kyle Larson qualified ninth at 179.656 mph and Chris Buescher completed the top 10 at 179.652 mph.
All six Toyota drivers qualified in the top 13. The two drivers outside the top 10 were Bubba Wallace qualifying 12th at 179.091 mph and Tyler Reddick qualifying 13th at 179.004 mph.
Ross Chastain, who is the defending race winner, qualified 23rd. Chastain’s lap was 178.420 mph.
There are 38 drivers starting the GEICO 500.