Hamlin Rolls To The Pole At Martinsville
Denny Hamlin got off to a fast start to his weekend Friday afternoon as he won pole for Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Hamlin, second in points to Jimmie Johnson halfway through the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, laid down a fast lap at 97.018 mph.
The pole for Hamlin, who is looking for a third straight victory at the Martinsville short track, was his second of the season. He will be looking for his seventh victory of the season Sunday fourth overall at Martinsville.
He is 41 points behind Johnson, who qualified 19th fastest. Johnson is a six-time Martinsville winner.
Hamlin has led just one lap in the Chase to this point. Leading a lap Sunday would give him valuable bonus points. His pole also gives him the prime stall on a tricky Martinsville pit road.
“It’s the biggest thing and this is only the first or second race we’ve had all year that we’ve actually just worked on qualifying on Friday,” Hamlin said of getting the best stall. “I know the 48 (Johnson) does that a lot and they typically out qualify us every single week. This is the first time for us doing that and obviously we executed really well today. Object one is accomplished and we just have to move on and change our mindset from here on out to what’s going to make our car last for 500 laps.
“There’s about three good pit stalls. What’s good for us is that hopefully the 48 gets to pick a pit stall and he won’t have ones that work out for timing lines because a lot of guys here cheat pit road quite a bit in the sense that they’ll gas the cars up. They know where the timing lines are so they’ll cheat where they are on pit road to work those timing lines.
“Hopefully those good timing line pit stalls where guys cheat that will be gone by the time those guys get to pick a stall. That will help us pretty much all day. Hopefully we stay up front then we should have nobody in front of us when we’re going into pit road and obviously no one when we’re leaving because the number one pit stall. It’s going to be important for us. That was our biggest thing. I think the 11th pit stall out there was the second-best one. We wanted to be one of those two spots.”
“We’ve had a great short track program all year and we’ve been looking forward to coming here to Martinsville,” Ambrose said. “It’s been a good day for us. Started off pretty loose – had a little spin there early in practice, but we got lucky and didn’t hit anything. Switched over to qualifying trim and really it was a good lap – I didn’t think it was going to be as good as the front row, but we’ll take it.”
Third was Chase driver Greg Biffle, who is eighth in points and 225 out of the lead.
“That was pretty good considering I almost wrecked,” Biffle said of his laps. “I’ve never been so scared in my life. I thought I was gonna hit the fence. I didn’t know it was gonna stop, but I did the best I could. I gave up a little bit on that second lap, but I learned something that will hopefully help me for Sunday. We weren’t that great in race trim, but since we switched over to qualifying trim we’ve been pretty decent. I just keep trying to do the best I can.”
Ryan Newman was fourth fastest and Juan Pabolo Montoya was fifth.
Chasers Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards were sixth and seventh.
Kevin Harvick, third in points and 77 behind Johnson, was 36thNo Comment