Hamlin Nabs Provisional Pole For Bristol Night Race

0
193
Hamlin Nabs Provisional Pole
Denny Hamlin earned the provisional pole at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday. (Jacob Seelman photo)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Denny Hamlin finally put a check in the qualifying column for Toyota this season by winning the pole for the Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race on Friday evening at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Hamlin toured the .533-mile, high-banked concrete oval in 14.848 seconds (129.230 mph) with his No. 11 FedEx Toyota to earn the top starting position for the most prestigious short-track race in NASCAR.

“I’m proud of this whole FedEx team for giving me such a great race car,” Hamlin said. “They’re on it right now; it’s unbelievable. What they’re doing with these race cars is giving me a lot of confidence, even as I’m still trying to learn as much as I can and continue to get better. The results are showing it.”

It marked Hamlin’s 31st career pole and fourth at Bristol, as well as the first for both he and Toyota as a manufacturer since last year’s finale, when Hamlin topped qualifying at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

While Hamlin did characterize winning poles in the Cup Series as “important,” he noted that Joe Gibbs Racing’s focus has largely been on race pace this season – shown by the team’s 11 wins in 23 races.

“Fortunately for us, qualifying doesn’t pay any money and it doesn’t pay any points, because we have been off in that regard this year,” Hamlin said. “With the aero package that we have, you can make your car almost as fast or as slow as you want to, but you have to worry about racing after that.

“We’ve focused a lot more on making our cars race well, because that’s where all the major accolades come from.”

Reigning Bristol Xfinity Series winner Kyle Larson will join Hamlin on the front row, touring the Bristol high banks in 14.874 seconds (129.004 mph) with his No. 42 CreditOne Bank Chevrolet.

Larson is seeking his first win at The Last Great Coliseum in Cup Series competition.

Martin Truex Jr. and six-time Bristol winner Kurt Busch will share the second row of the grid, with Aric Almirola completing the top five on the speed charts.

Chase Elliott will start sixth, ahead of Matt DiBenedetto, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones and Alex Bowman.

Defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano rolls off 11th, while Kyle Busch – the most recent Bristol winner at the top level – qualified an uncharacteristic 31st with his No. 18 M&Ms Toyota.

Friday’s qualifying results are unofficial until the conclusion of pre-race inspection on Saturday.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Bristol Motor Speedway; Aug. 16, 2019

  1. #11 – Denny Hamlin, 14.848 seconds (129.230 mph)
  2. #42 – Kyle Larson, 14.874 seconds (129.004 mph)
  3. #19 – Martin Truex Jr., 14.875 seconds (128.995 mph)
  4. #1 – Kurt Busch, 14.896 seconds (128.813 mph)
  5. #10 – Aric Almirola, 14.901 seconds (128.770 mph)
  6. #9 – Chase Elliott, 14.923 seconds (128.580 mph)
  7. #95 – Matt DiBenedetto, 14.937 seconds (128.460 mph)
  8. #4 – Kevin Harvick, 14.940 seconds (128.434 mph)
  9. #20 – Erik Jones, 14.945 seconds (128.391 mph)
  10. #88 – Alex Bowman, 14.963 seconds (128.236 mph)
  11. #22 – Joey Logano, 14.976 seconds (128.135 mph)
  12. #12 – Ryan Blaney, 14.981 seconds (128.082 mph)
  13. #2 – Brad Keselowski, 14.997 seconds (127.946 mph)
  14. #6 – Ryan Newman, 15.002 seconds (127.903 mph)
  15. #17 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 15.028 seconds (127.682 mph)
  16. #38 – David Ragan, 15.053 seconds (127.470 mph)
  17. #8 – Daniel Hemric, 15.084 seconds (127.208 mph)
  18. #41 – Daniel Suarez, 15.088 seconds (127.174 mph)
  19. #3 – Austin Dillon, 15.116 seconds (126.938 mph)
  20. #14 – Clint Bowyer, 15.129 seconds (126.829 mph)
  21. #24 – William Byron, 15.166 seconds (126.520 mph)
  22. #43 – Bubba Wallace, 15.188 seconds (126.337 mph)
  23. #47 – Ryan Preece, 15.192 seconds (126.303 mph)
  24. #13 – Ty Dillon, 15.255 seconds (126.030 mph)
  25. #21 – Paul Menard, 15.243 seconds (125.881 mph)
  26. #32 – Corey LaJoie, 15.273 seconds (125.633 mph)
  27. #36 – Matt Tifft, 15.275 seconds (125.617 mph)
  28. #34 – Michael McDowell, 15.311 seconds (125.322 mph)
  29. #37 – Chris Buescher, 15.314 seconds (125.297 mph)
  30. #48 – Jimmie Johnson, 15.331 seconds (125.158 mph)
  31. #18 – Kyle Busch, 15.340 seconds (125.085 mph)
  32. #00 – Landon Cassill, 15.366 seconds (124.873 mph)
  33. #51 – B.J. McLeod, 15.468 seconds (124.050 mph)
  34. #27 – Quin Houff, 15.579 seconds (123.166 mph)
  35. #53 – Josh Bilicki, 15.631 seconds (122.756 mph)
  36. #54 – J.J. Yeley, 15.732 seconds (121.968 mph)
  37. #77 – Reed Sorenson, 15.733 seconds (121.960 mph)
  38. #52 – Kyle Weatherman, 15.786 seconds (121.551 mph)
  39. #15 – Ross Chastain, 15.840 seconds (121.136 mph)