Hamlin Claims Martinsville Pole

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Denny Hamlin will start from the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. (HHP/Harold Hinson Photo)
Denny Hamlin will start from the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. (HHP/Harold Hinson Photo)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Denny Hamlin cemented his place as a favorite to win Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 by winning the pole Friday afternoon at the .526-mile asphalt oval.

Hamlin’s 19.52-second lap at 97.018 miles per hour was enough to give him his second pole of the season, second of his career at Martinsville and ninth of his career overall. He has won the last two Sprint Cup events held at Martinsville.

Marcos Ambrose, driving the No. 47 Dollar General Country Million Sweepstakes Toyota, surprised by qualifying second. His 19.521-second lap at 97.003 miles per hour was considerably better than his 19.564-second lap during practice.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Greg Biffle and David Reutimann completed the top five. Hamlin’s championship rival Jimmie Johnson qualified a disappointing 19th.

Michael McDowell, Johnny Sauter, Terry Cook and Robby Gordon failed to qualify.