Denny Hamlin edges Kyle Larson for Richmond pole

Denny Hamlin was the fastest of the slower-going cars in Friday’s Sprint Cup Series knockout qualifying session at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

Denny Hamlin edges Kyle Larson for Richmond pole

With high temperatures and speeds decreasing with tire falloff through the three-round qualifying session, Hamlin’s third round average speed at 122.344 mph was good enough to earn the pole for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400.

Kyle Larson came closest to knocking off Hamlin late in the five minute final session with an average lap speed of 122.288 mph.

Matt Kenseth will start third, Jamie McMurray fourth and Kurt Busch – who was fastest in the first two rounds – will line up fifth.

The pole is Hamlin’s first this season, 24th of his Cup career and third at his hometown track of Richmond.

“Had a great car, obviously,” Hamlin said after the session. “We had some tire falloff as he ran more laps than a lot of the guys but our car was awesome. I guess my car’s going to be pretty good in the long run (in the race), so I’m happy about that.”

After coming failing to go to the top of the scoring pylon in the third round, Kurt Busch simply said, “Right rear,” over his team radio, apparently indicating an area of concern on his No. 41 Chevrolet.

Busch’s lap in Round 1 of 123.808 mph ended up being the fastest lap in the entire qualifying session.

Rounding out the top 12: Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano.

Round 2

Hamlin was the only driver to take to the track for the first two minutes of the 10-minute second round qualifying session, but Kurt Busch eventually knocked him from the top spot.

In the second round, Busch’s best average lap speed was 123.338 mph. He was followed by Truex, Hamlin, Larson and Kyle Busch.

Also advancing to the final round were: McMurray, Gordon, Kenseth, Kahne, Johnson, Dillon and Logano.

Among those who failed to advance were Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman.

“I just feel like we were halfway balanced and just lacking a little bit of grip,” Newman said. “We made it better but not good enough to make the last round.”

Round 1

Kurt Busch led the way in the 20-minute opening qualifying session, posting an average lap speed of 123.808 mph.

Kahne was second, Kyle Busch third, Larson fourth and Dillon fifth-fastest. Regan Smith posted the 20th-fastest speed – the first time the Tommy Baldwin Racing team has advanced out of the first round all season.

Casey Mears, who was fastest in final practice, failed to advance to the second round, and will line up 26th in Saturday night’s race.

“We went out early in Happy Hour and that made the difference. I think the car’s been driving half-way decent,” he said. “It’s definitely not what we wanted, we were hoping to make the Top 24.”

The biggest surprise in the first round was likely rookie Chase Elliott, who ended up 34th, tying his third-worst start of the season.

“We just haven’t been where we wanted to be especially during mock qualifying runs and especially now in qualifying,” Elliott said. “It’s a long race tomorrow night. We’re going to have to lean on our (Hendrick Motorsports) teammates tomorrow night.”

Among those also failing to advance to Round 2 were Danica Patrick, Clint Bowyer, rookie Chris Buescher and Greg Biffle.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 11  Denny Hamlin  Toyota 3 22.069     122.344
2 42  Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 2 22.079 0.010 0.010 122.288
3 20  Matt Kenseth  Toyota 3 22.087 0.018 0.008 122.244
4 1  Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 3 22.097 0.028 0.010 122.189
5 41  Kurt Busch  Chevrolet 2 22.105 0.036 0.008 122.144
6 78  Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 3 22.123 0.054 0.018 122.045
7 5  Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 3 22.123 0.054 0.000 122.045
8 3  Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 3 22.197 0.128 0.074 121.638
9 18  Kyle Busch  Toyota 2 22.230 0.161 0.033 121.457
10 48  Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 2 22.323 0.254 0.093 120.951
shares
comments
Edwards focused on Richmond sweep, but how far will he go to get it?
Previous article

Edwards focused on Richmond sweep, but how far will he go to get it?

Next article

Five things to look out for in Richmond's Cup race

Five things to look out for in Richmond's Cup race
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021