Defending Winner Denny Hamlin On The Pole For Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500by Hunter Thomas September 1, 2018 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Defending Bojangles’ Southern 500 winner, Denny Hamlin won the Busch Pole for the 69th running of the prestigious Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway.
Hamlin, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 FedEx Throwback Toyota captured the pole by running a lap of 28.332 seconds at 173.571 mph in the third and final round of qualifying on Saturday. The pole effort marks Hamlin’s first at Darlington Raceway and his third so far this season.
“The number one pit stall is obviously very important here,” Hamlin said. “I’m excited about that. Really, the team has done a great job with the car all weekend, so pretty optimistic and you know hopeful that we have a good smooth race on Sunday and continue to build some momentum here over the next few weeks.”
Starting alongside of Hamlin in second is Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson. He missed out on the pole by a mere 0.026 seconds. Last year, Larson finished 14th in the Bojangles’ Southern 500, but he’s a driver who loves piloting his car around on the high side. The driver of the No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet is expected to be a strong contender on Sunday.
“It was pretty good there every round,” Larson said. “The first round I was a little bit on the free side and ran a really good lap. The second round, I felt like my balance was pretty good and fell off a few tenths, but was still good. And then the third round there I was just a little too loose to carry the speed I needed to get the pole. I would have liked to have gotten the pole, but hopefully we can keep our car up front tomorrow and get a good finish for our team and DC Solar.”
Martin Truex Jr., 2016 Bojangles’ Southern 500 winner will start third on Sunday. Truex was also in the hunt for the pole on Saturday as he missed out by only 0.060 seconds. The Furniture Row Racing driver finished eighth in last year’s Bojangles’ Southern 500, but he’s having an incredible season so far as he has accumulated four victories and sits third in the standings.
“Yeah, you know this place is hard on tires, so you try not to abuse them too much,” Truex said. “We were able to put together a solid lap in those first two rounds – enough to move us on and then it was really all about just trying to get all I could. We weren’t the fastest car by any means, but we were the most consistent and that’s what got us a good starting spot. Guys did a good job and it’s a good place to start for here and we’ll go get them tomorrow night.”
Rounding out the top-five of Sunday’s starting lineup is Alex Bowman in fourth and 2008 Bojangles Southern 500 winner, Kyle Busch in fifth. Ryan Newman, Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and William Byron complete the top-10 starting spots.
There was one accident during Busch Pole Qualifying on Saturday. In Round 1, Kerry Earnhardt lost control and spun out while exiting Turn 2. Earnhardt’s No. 96 Xtreme Concepts Toyota pounded the inside wall on the backstretch. Earnhardt was released from the Infield Care Center following the hard hit.
The Bojangles’ Southern 500 will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com
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