Denny Hamlin grabs pole at Bristol


Denny Hamlin posted a lap time of 14.878 seconds at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Friday during qualifying for Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“It was kind of a nerve-wracking type of lap, where you know you have to drive it to a certain speed and hope that you’ve got the cushion there to kind of lean on and we, obviously, hit it just right and was able to get the pole,” Hamlin said.

He’ll be joined on the front row by Kurt Busch for the start of the race. Busch qualified second with a fast lap of 14.901 seconds after scrubbing the wall in practice earlier in the day.

“It was an eventful Friday for us,” Busch said. I got a little loose getting into (turn) three and it took me all the way until turn four to scrub the fence and we pancaked the right side just enough to where we had to quit practice for the last half hour and go to work on fixing the car,” Busch said.

Kyle Busch may be the winningest driver at Bristol across all three national divisions of NASCAR — Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck — but that didn’t make getting around the high-banked short track any easier for the 15-time Bristol winner (five wins at the Sprint Cup level). Busch aborted his first get-up-to speed lap for a redo, managing to hit the wall. In the end he wound up with a starting spot of 43rd and last.

But Busch wasn’t the only driver having trouble qualifying at Bristol on Friday evening. Sprint Cup Series points leader and five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson also needed a redo during qualifying, as well Travis Kvapil. Johnson wound up qualifying 13th.

Carl Edwards sat on the provisional pole, for a time, on Friday, but was knocked from the top of the scoring pylong by Hamlin. By the end of the session, Edwards was third. He’ll share the second row with fourth-place qualifier, Brian Vickers.

“I’m real happy,” Edwards said. “That’s fun. That’s the fastest I’ve ever gone around here, and it’s definitely as fun as it looks. That’s a blast.”

Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five in qualifying. Qualifying sixth through 10th were Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola.

– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR

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