Denny Hamlin Wins Martinsville Cup Series Pole

Denny Hamlin
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin will start from the pole for Sunday's First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Hamlin, a five-time Martinsville winner, laid down a lap speed of 97.840 mph to claim the top spot.

"It was good," Hamlin said. "We definitely didn't expect to run that fast for sure. We didn't make any mock run and the fastest in practice was something like a 59 or something like that, so certainly caught us off guard, but really I just drove it to its capability and that's kind of all I had. I was happy with it. I knew when I ran it, I was pretty happy with the lap, so to have the pole is obviously a huge, huge deal here."

With two of the last three Martinsville winners going on to win the series title, Hamlin may be in a strong spot to bolster his championship hopes with a win on Sunday.

"Two of the three, so that's 66 percent. If they're in the Final Four, they have a 25 percent. It is part of just numbers," Hamlin said. "It just happens to be one of those things. I think really, you don't see many surprise winners at this race track. I think it's really just the best guys, the best drivers really perform really well at this race track. It's just challenging in so many different ways. It's challenging just to tell your crew chief what's right and wrong in the car. I think that it's more coincidence than anything, but certainly if it was the entire field – a lot of it is just because the Round of 8 guys will always step up in the Round of 8. They spend more time on their cars, things like that, so it's more coincidence, but a lot of it is just because those guys are great and I wouldn't know."

Fellow title contender Chase Elliott, with whom Hamlin tangled for the race win in 2017, will start second. However, the Dawsonville, Georgia speedster will have to start from the rear of the field after blowing an engine in practice.

"We'd still like to have a good pit pick. A lot of times, that can be as important as your starting spot," Elliott said. "So, obviously we don't get to keep our starting spot, but a good pit pick would be nice. It would be great to have that first pit box or a really good one. We'll do our best."

Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex, Jr. starts third, Aric Almirola starts fourth and Michael McDowell will roll off from the fifth starting spot.

Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Joey Logano rounds out the top 10 starters.

Other notables include playoff contenders Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson, who tied on time, in 13th and 14th respectively. Busch gets the nod on his higher position in owner points.

Kevin Harvick was 22nd quick, the lowest qualifier among the title hopefuls. Nine-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson will start 24th.


Pos # Driver Sponsor/Make Lap Speed
1 11 Denny Hamlin (P) FedEx Freight Toyota 19.354 97.84
2 9 Chase Elliott (P) Mountain Dew Chevrolet 19.383 97.694
3 19 Martin Truex Jr (P) Auto Owners Insurance Toyota 19.429 97.463
4 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 19.453 97.342
5 34 Michael McDowell A&W All American Foods Ford 19.471 97.252
6 12 Ryan Blaney (P) Menards/Richmond Ford 19.487 97.172
7 14 Clint Bowyer BlueDEF Ford 19.488 97.167
8 20 Erik Jones Craftsman Toyota 19.492 97.148
9 41 Daniel Suarez Haas Automation Ford 19.506 97.078
10 22 Joey Logano (P) Shell Pennzoil Ford 19.509 97.063
11 24 William Byron Liberty University Chevrolet 19.525 96.983
12 95 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota 19.545 96.884
13 18 Kyle Busch (P) M&M's Halloween Toyota 19.547 96.874
14 42 Kyle Larson (P) Clover Chevrolet 19.547 96.874
15 2 Brad Keselowski Alliance Truck Parts Ford 19.579 96.716
16 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Fifth Third Bank Ford 19.593 96.647
17 38 David Ragan MDS Transport Ford 19.619 96.519
18 8 Daniel Hemric # Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet 19.641 96.411
19 88 Alex Bowman Llumar Chevrolet 19.65 96.366
20 37 Chris Buescher Clorox Chevrolet 19.669 96.273
21 47 Ryan Preece # Kroger Chevrolet 19.686 96.19
22 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford 19.688 96.18
23 3 Austin Dillon American Ethanol Chevrolet 19.732 95.966
24 48 Jimmie Johnson Ally Chevrolet 19.742 95.917
25 1 Kurt Busch Global Poker Chevrolet 19.745 95.903
26 43 Bubba Wallace Victory Junction Chevrolet 19.756 95.849
27 6 Ryan Newman Blue Bird Ford 19.762 95.82
28 32 Corey LaJoie Ford 19.796 95.656
29 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet 19.821 95.535
30 21 Paul Menard Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 19.9 95.156
31 36 Matt Crafton(i) Surface Sunscreen/Tunity Ford 20.031 94.533
32 0 Landon Cassill(i) Sea Deck/Units Chevrolet 20.07 94.35
33 51 BJ McLeod(i) JACOB COMPANIES Chevrolet 20.141 94.017
34 27 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 20.15 93.975
35 53 JJ Yeley(i) GOTTA KILL IT TO HEAL IT Chevrolet 20.292 93.318
36 15 Ross Chastain(i) Chevrolet 20.401 92.819
37 77 Timmy Hill(i) Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 20.449 92.601
38 52 Garrett Smithley(i) RICH MAR FLORIST.COM Chevrolet 20.477 92.474

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