By AMANDA VINCENT
Denny Hamlin turned in a 14.602-second/131.407 mph lap in the third and final round of qualifying at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Friday to claim the pole for Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. It was his second pole win of the day, coming after he claimed the NASCAR Xfinity Series pole for Friday night’s Food City 300.
“Our FedEx Ground Camry, obviously, was very fast that last round and Dave (Rogers, crew chief) made the great adjustments to it to pick up the speed, and I think that, hopefully, we’ll have something that we can race with them tomorrow night,” Hamlin said.
The Sprint Cup pole was Hamlin’s second of the season and the third of his career at Bristol. His third-round, pole-winning lap was a track qualifying record.
“Bristol has been a great track for me in the past, and we’ve got nothing to lose this weekend just gearing up for the Chase, so I think our FedEx team is ready.”
Hamlin led a Joe Gibbs Racing sweep of the front three spots on Saturday night’s starting grid, with Kyle Busch taking the other front-row starting spot and Carl Edwards qualifying third. Bristol is the second-straight week with JGR starting in the top-three spots. Matt Kenseth started on the pole last weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, with Hamlin next to him on the front row.
“I’m hoping the guys as the shop will tell us on Monday that we still have good stuff coming,” Busch said. “I’m sure we do, but everybody has just been working their tails off and doing a great job. We just tried some different things this year, and it’s kind of worked for us.”
In addition to JGR in the top-three starting spots, Toyota took the top-four, with Michael Waltrip Racing’s David Ragan qualifying fourth. Joey Logano was the best of the rest, qualifying fifth. He’ll share the third row with his Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski.
Busch and Ragan were the top-two in the opening round of qualifying, with Busch’s 14.679-second/130.717 mph lap leading the way. Kurt Busch, third in the first round, was fastest in round two with a 14.641-second/131.057 mph lap.
Here’s a look at the full starting grid for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race:
Row 1 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 2 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), David Ragan (No. 55 Toyota)
Row 3 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 4 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 5 — Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 7 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Justin Allgaier (No. 51 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 9 — Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 12 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 9 Ford)
Row 14 — Brett Moffitt (No. 34 Ford), Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), Michael McDowell (No. 95 Ford)
Row 16 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet)
Row 17 — Cole Whitt (No. 35 Ford), Josh Wise (No. 34 Ford)
Row 18 — Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet), Alex Bowman (No. 7 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — David Gilliland (No. 38 Ford), J.J. Yelley (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 20 — Landon Cassill (No. 40 Chevrolet), Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 21 — Timmy Hill (No. 98 Ford), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota)
Row 22 — Mike Bliss (No. 33 Chevrolet)
DNQ (did not qualify) — Travis Kvapil, Jeb Burton, Reed Sorenson
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