Hamlin wins Bristol night race pole

Bristol has been a place of highs and lows for Denny Hamlin over the past year.

Last August, Hamlin won his first IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. That win was his third of the 2012 season, putting him in position to contend in the Chase.

When the series returned to Bristol in March, Hamlin found himself running up at the front of the field until a flat tire late after. Following the race, Hamlin was the subject of attention after his run-in with former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Joey Logano, while both were running inside the top-five.

The next week, Hamlin and Logano tangled at Auto Club Speedway, sending Hamlin into the inside barrier and out for the upcoming four races.

Since returning, Hamlin’s season has been disastrous and his hopes for keeping his streak of making the Chase in each year he’s raced in the Sprint Cup Series dashed.

As the series returned to Bristol, Hamlin finds himself on the top-side of the scoring pylon after winning the pole for Saturday night’s IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol.

“I’m proud of this whole FedEX Ground team,” Hamlin said after winning the pole. “We had pretty good practices and, obviously, a good pole effort never hurts.”

Hamlin’s lap around the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway in/at 14.878 seconds/128.969 mph beat out second-place starter, Kurt Busch.

The pole is the 16th of his career in Sprint Cup, his fourth of the 2013 season and his first at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“It’ll give us that number-one pit selection. We’ll use that up,” Hamlin said as to what this pole means for Saturday night’s race.

“Hopefully we’ll have a good 500 laps around here.”

Two of the three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers will start Saturday night’s race from the top-five. The other will start 43rd (last) on the grid.

Crashing not once, but twice, in qualifying, Kyle Busch posted the slowest lap in Friday evening’s qualifying session.

Busch will not use a backup car for Saturday’s race, instead his team has opted to make repairs to the damaged car.

IRWIN Tools Night Race Starting Lineup 

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Kurt Busch
  3. Carl Edwards
  4. Brian Vickers
  5. Matt Kenseth
  6. Joey Logano
  7. Kasey Kahne
  8. Ryan Newman
  9. Martin Truex Jr.
  10. Aric Almirola
  11. Mark Martin
  12. Brad Keselowski
  13. Jimmie Johnson
  14. Marcos Ambrose
  15. Kevin Harvick
  16. Juan Pablo Montoya
  17. David Ragan
  18. Ryan Truex
  19. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  20. Jamie McMurray
  21. Paul Menard
  22. Danica Patrick
  23. Bobby Labonte
  24. Clint Bowyer
  25. David Gilliland
  26. Michael McDowell
  27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  28. Josh Wise
  29. Greg Biffle
  30. Casey Mears
  31. David Reutimann
  32. Jeff Gordon
  33. Landon Cassill
  34. JJ Yeley
  35. Ken Schrader
  36. Dave Blaney
  37. Joe Nemchek
  38. David Stremme
  39. Travis Kvapil
  40. Tony Raines
  41. Jeff Burton
  42. Scott Speed
  43. Kyle Busch