Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Denny Hamlin earns Sprint Cup pole at Bristol

Denny Hamlin earns the first Sprint Cup pole for Joe Gibbs racing this season.

Denny Hamlin earns the first Sprint Cup pole for Joe Gibbs racing this season.

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Denny Hamlin was confident Friday he had a car good enough to contend for the win in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

But earning the pole? That was a surprise.

Hamlin claimed the top starting position for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway with a track-record average lap of 129.991, breaking the 129.535 set by Kyle Busch one year ago.

Hamlin was third in the first qualifying elimination session and needed just one run in the final 10-minute dash.

"I was way more excited about my car in race trim than I was qualifying," said Hamlin, who earned his first pole the season, 18th of his career. "Our car was super consistent, didn't fall off — it's everything that you need to win a race here."

Brad Keselowski (129.965) of Team Penske will line up second, his third straight front-row start. Hamlin's teammates, Matt Kenseth and Busch, will start third and seventh, respectively.

Danica Patrick wrecked just minutes into the first practice. In all, four drivers had to go to backup cars, including Busch.

Tampa's Aric Almirola (127.605) qualified 23rd.

Formula One: Mercedes confirmed its status as the favorite to win the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, setting the fastest two times in practice with Lewis Hamilton edging Nico Rosberg with a lap of 1 minute, 29.625 seconds. This weekend's race is the first since the series introduced a sweeping set of changes to cars, including less aerodynamic downforce, the use of heat and kinetic energy-storage systems for extra horsepower, and a 220-pound limit on fuel in races.

IndyCar: Verizon signed a multiyear naming agreement, making the telecommunications giant the title sponsor of the series. The season opens March 30 in St. Petersburg.

Motorcycles: Danny Eslick, riding a Triumph, earned the pole for Sunday's Daytona 200 AMA SportBike race at Daytona International Speedway with a lap of 1:49.292 on the 3.51-mile road course.

Denny Hamlin earns Sprint Cup pole at Bristol 03/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2014 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dave Andreychuk going into Hall of Fame (w/photo gallery)

    Blogs

    Dave Andreychuk said Monday began "business as usual."

    Dave Andreychuk battles Calgary's Andrew Ference during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.
  2. UPDATE: Rays finalizing deal to get SS Hechavarria for 2 minor-leaguers

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 4:27: In making the deal, the Rays add an elite-level defender to an infield that could use the help. But it also raises a number of questions, such as will they now move Tim Beckham to 2B? Does this mean Matt Duffy is not coming back this season? Is Daniel Robertson or Taylor Featherston going to …

    Adeiny Hechavarria is a two-time Gold Glove finalist who could help settle the Rays sometimes leaky infield defense.
  3. Timmy Claus is coming to town

    Blogs

    The circus is coming to town.

    Well, close enough.

    Timmy the Tebow is coming to Tampa Bay.

    It’s true. At least it could be. St. Timothy has been promoted by the New York Mets to high Class-A Port St. Lucie. If he stays promoted, Tebow should be in Tampa Bay for eight games beginning August 10 …

    Coming soon: Tim Tebow will hit Tampa Bay in August.
  4. Ranking Malik Zaire among 2017's top transfer quarterbacks

    Blogs

    The Florida Gators' Malik Zaire is among many transfers who could become starters at their new school. Here's how he stacks up in our rankings of top transfer quarterbacks:

  5. Lightning re-sign Yanni Gourde to two-year, one-way deal

    Blogs

    Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fightning to stay in pro hockey.

    Yanni Gourde seized his moment with six goals in 20 games as a callup last season.