Virginia’s Denny Hamlin Earns Third Pole At Richmond International Racewayby Hunter Thomas September 9, 2016 0 comments
RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia native, Denny Hamlin earned his third pole at Richmond International Raceway on Friday during Coors Light Pole Qualifying.
Hamlin’s pole sitting lap for Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 was 22.069 seconds at 122.344 mph. The run marks his 24th career pole effort, but it’s his first of the 2016 season. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry has now started with the top-10 in 24 straight races. On Friday, he was 10th fastest in Round 1 of qualifying. He followed that effort up with a strong third place effort in Round 2 and then the pole in the third and final round.
“A great car obviously,” Hamlin said. “Made a lot of great adjustments there at the end. We were a little bit of a tire disadvantage. We had more laps than those guys. Our car was just off and couldn’t get going, but obviously it’s a good sign for things to come for the long run. I’m proud of the whole FedEx Ground team. This is a great kick for us. We’ve qualified in the top-10 I think 23 or 24-straight weeks and to be able to finally get a pole is a great feeling.”
Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chevrolet SS will start alongside of Hamlin on Saturday night. He missed out on the pole by a mere 0.010 seconds. He has six top-10 starts so far this season; however, he has started within the top-10 in three of his six career starts at the track. Larson was fast all through qualifying. Besides his runner-up run in the final round, Larson was fourth fastest in Rounds 1 and 2.
“Yeah, I was losing my drive off of (Turn) 4; but I’ll take a second here,” Larson said. “I’ve always qualified somewhat decent here. I would have liked to get the pole, but we’ll take a front row start. Short tracks are where I struggle the most, so it’s nice to qualify good. We’ve just got to race well. I’ve qualified good on short tracks before, just haven’t raced great. We’ve changed some stuff on the Target Chevy to try and make it better. So far this weekend it’s been paying off. So, I’m happy about that. It’s still a long race tomorrow to try and work on it.”
Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth will roll off in the third position. Kenseth was only 11th fastest in Round 1, but he jumped up to eighth on the speed chart in Round 2. Kenseth missed out on the pole by only 0.018 seconds. The driver of the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry has 16 top-10 starts in 2016. He also has eight career top-10 starts at Richmond International Raceway.
“It was good,” Kenseth said. “We were a little off, but we still ended up getting a good result out of it when we were all said and done, so probably a little better than I thought it was going to be.”
Jamie McMurray, who is a driver trying to make his way into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will start fourth, and Kurt Busch will start fifth. Bojangles’ Southern 500 winner, Martin Truex Jr. rolls off sixth, followed by Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson.
The Federated Auto Parts 400 will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas