By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Track position is often key at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver that will start with the best track position in the Bank of America 500 will be Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin cruised to the pole with a lap of 28.184 seconds, 191.598 mph in the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry. His lap narrowly edged out his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who ended up 0.016 seconds behind. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five qualifiers. The rest of the top 10 qualifiers were Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, and Kyle Larson.
Hamlin admitted that this pole was important for a good finish,
“It’s really big. This is a track position type race track. All of them are, but any mile and half you go to you want to have the number one pit stall, you want to be out in clean air. Good thing with our FedEx Toyota we had a good, fast car and put it on the top.”
This is Hamlin’s 25th career pole position and his first in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. He enters Charlotte seventh in the Playoff Standings after reseeding for the Round of 12.
Hamlin also pointed out that in nearly every season of his career that he has captured at least one pole position,
“I had one pole and at least one win in every year of my career, so I knew that the time was running out to get a pole because I hadn’t had one yet in 2017. I didn’t keep track of the numbers, like how many, I just care about keeping the streak of winning at least one in every season alive.”
Only seven of the 12 Playoff drivers qualified in the top 10. Ryan Blaney qualified 15th, Martin Truex, Jr. 17th, Jamie McMurray 18th, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 22nd, and seven-time and defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson ended a surprising 25th.
Hamlin will lead not just the field, but his Playoff competitors with the best track position to start with on Sunday’s Bank of America 500.