Denny Hamlin enters this weekend’s opening race of the Round of 8 as the hottest driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won last weekend’s race at the Kansas Speedway and has four top five finishes in his last five starts on the year.
Now, Hamlin will lead the field to green for Sunday’s First Data 500 (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Hamlin, circled the Martinsville (VA) Speedway with a lap of 97.840 mph in his No. 11 Toyota en route to his 33rd Busch Pole Award of his career, tying him with Fonty Flock for 21st all-time. It was also Hamlin’s third pole of the season too.
Chase Elliott qualified his No. 9 Chevrolet in second with a speed of 97.694 mph. But, Elliott will have to drop to the rear at the start of Sunday’s race due to him blowing an engine in the opening practice session of the weekend earlier in the day. Due to having to change engines, Elliott will now start last.
Martin Truex Jr. (97.463 mph) will start third in his No. 19 Toyota while Aric Almirola (97.342 mph) and Michael McDowell (97.252 mph) rounded out the top five.
First Data 500 Starting Lineup
Row 1: Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott * (Will Drop To Rear)
Row 2: Martin Truex Jr, Aric Almirola
Row 3: Michael McDowell, Ryan Blaney
Row 4: Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones
Row 5: Daniel Suarez, Joey Logano
Row 6: William Byron, Matt DiBenedetto
Row 7: Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson
Row 8: Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 9: David Ragan, Daniel Hemric R
Row 10: Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher
Row 11: Ryan Preece R, Kevin Harvick
Row 12: Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson
Row 13: Kurt Busch, Darrell Wallace Jr.
Row 14: Ryan Newman, Corey LaJoie
Row 15: Ty Dillon, Paul Menard
Row 16: Matt Crafton, Landon Cassill
Row 17: BJ McLeod, Reed Sorenson
Row 18: JJ Yeley, Ross Chastain
Row 19: Timmy Hill, Garrett Smithley