Nine years after his first Coca-Cola 600 pole, Denny Hamlin added a second to his resume by a narrow margin on Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Hamlin beat Kurt Busch – who drives for Hamlin’s 23XI Racing team – by just 0.003 seconds to score the 34th pole of his career. A lap of 29.399 seconds and 183.68 miles per hour pushed Hamlin’s Toyota over Busch’s on a night when Toyota-powered cars reigned supreme.
Christopher Bella and Kyle Busch, two of Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, had a 1-2-3-4 sweep for Toyota – the brand’s first sweep of the front two rows since 2017.
William Byron’s Chevrolet broke the party with a fifth place finish, while Austin Cindric finished sixth and Bubba Wallace seventh.
Tyler Reddick, Alex Bowman and Michael McDowell rounded out the top 10. Kyle Larson, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion and Coca-Cola 600 winner, did not complete a qualifying lap.
Larson’s #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was fastest in practice, but contact with the wall damaged Larson’s car to the point that it could not be repaired in time to qualify. He will start the 63rd edition of the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday in 36th place.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (Pole Winner): “The end result is probably the perfect scenario for me. Our car was good. It was good out of the truck. We just kept tuning it a bit and we thought once this thing came into the night, that you want to run the low line through (turns) 3 and 4 as much as you can. I got as many reps as possible doing this and it seemed like that was the difference maker. Happy about that, I’d like to talk about the long relationship I’ ‘ve had with Coca-Cola, for 18 years.Being part of the Coke family and not winning this race was definitely very frustrating, and it would definitely help my resume. It’s by far the top of my list, which shows how much I want it.
“Hopefully booth #1 helps us relax a bit. … Every time you’re compared to others, which is what you usually do, they talk about what you’ve won: Daytona 500, Southern 500, Coke -Cola 600 and the Brickyard races Those races really matter The #1 thing for me is definitely winning the Coke 600, for my relationship with Coke but also because I’m trying to bring down all the crown jewels.