Hamlin sets new track qualifying record at Charlotte
Denny Hamlin (left), who was the 39th driver in the 44-car qualifying order, turned a lap at a blistering 195.624 mph.
Concord, NC (Sports Network) -
Denny Hamlin easily broke the track qualifying record at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday night to earn the pole for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 -- the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Hamlin, who was the 39th driver in the 44-car qualifying order, turned a lap at a blistering 195.624 mph. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver collected his second pole of the season and the 14th of his Sprint Cup career.
"I really just committed to running the best lap that I could, pushing every envelope," said Hamlin, who will start on the pole at Charlotte for the first time in 16 starts here. "Obviously, it paid off with a big reward. It's a good step to the weekend and hopefully a good sign of things to come for the 600 on Sunday."
Hamlin's first pole this season came on the last weekend in March at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. He suffered a compression fracture in his lower back during an accident on the final lap at Fontana and ended up missing the next four races -- Martinsville, Texas, Kansas and Richmond. Hamlin returned to competition on May 5 at Talladega, completing just 25 laps there before Brian Vickers relieved him in the No. 11 JGR Toyota. He then finished second to teammate Matt Kenseth in the Southern 500 at Darlington the following weekend.