Mar 28, 2014, 6:40 PM EST
It will be a Joe Gibbs Racing front row to start Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
And while Denny Hamlin – who broke the track’s speed and one-lap elapsed time records earlier in the day in practice – is one of those two JGR drivers on the front row, it will not be on the pole.
Last week’s race winner at California, Kyle Busch, continued his momentum by winning the pole for the first time in his career at the .526-mile bullring in southern Virginia.
“What do you know? It’s Martinsville and we get to start on the pole, so it’s pretty cool,” Busch said. “There’s always a first for everything, I guess. This is pretty neat.
“Short tracks, our cars have already been great. … It’s fun to start up front. It makes things a lot easier, that’s for sure.”
It was Busch’s first pole since at Daytona last July.
Busch is still seeking his first career Sprint Cup win at Martinsville.
Conversely, Hamlin was going for his fourth career pole at Martinsville, where he is a four-time winner.
“We were just too loose really in both runs,” Hamlin said. “I felt like the track was a little green when we went out the first time and maybe used up a little bit more tire.
“Overall, it’s still a solid day for us. Second starting spot is going to give us a good pit stall, which is important here. We’re pretty pleased with how our weekend started.”
Hamlin is hoping to tweak the balance on his car a bit during Saturday’s final practice, but weather could be an impediment. Showers are predicted for part of Saturday, especially in the morning, which is also when the final Sprint Cup practice is scheduled.
“Tomorrow’s going to be frantic,” Hamlin said of Saturday’s practice and the prospect of rain. “Hopefully, we get it in.”
Still, even though he will start second, Hamlin likes his overall package nonetheless.
“It’s got good speed,” Hamlin said of his No. 11 FedEx Toyota. “(Saturday) our main focus will be keeping the tires on it as long as we can without giving up too much center turn. It’s a tough balance.”
Joey Logano qualified third, followed by eight-time Martinsville winners Jimmie Johnson (fourth) and Jeff Gordon (fifth), followed by Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, current Sprint Cup points leader Carl Edwards in eighth and Jamie McMurray.
Also of note was the performance of Danica Patrick, who earned her career-best Sprint Cup starting spot on a non-restrictor plate track.
Patrick qualified a solid 10th at Martinsville, her second career top-10 starting spot. She sat on the pole in the 2013 Daytona 500, a restrictor plate track.
Here’s how the field for Sunday’s STP 500 stacks up at Martinsville Speedway:
1 Kyle Busch 99.674 mph
2 Denny Hamlin 99.548
3 Joey Logano 99.428
4 Jimmie Johnson 99.178
5 Jeff Gordon 99.048
6 Matt Kenseth 99.048
7 Tony Stewart 98.883
8 Carl Edwards 98.846
9 Jamie McMurray 98.625
10 Danica Patrick 98.165
11 Greg Biffle 97.764
12 Clint Bowyer 97.382
13 Brian Vickers 98.965
14 Brad Keselowski 98.929
15 AJ Allmendinger 98.888
16 Ryan Newman 98.877
17 Marcos Ambrose 98.712
18 Kevin Harvick 98.708
19 Alex Bowman 98.661
20 Aric Almirola 98.625
21 Paul Menard 98.610
22 Kurt Busch 98.610
23 Casey Mears 98.599
24 David Ragan 98.599
25 Justin Allgaier 98.430
26 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 98.379
27 Kasey Kahne 98.359
28 Kyle Larson 98.333
29 Travis Kvapil 98.246
30 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 98.206
31 Martin Truex Jr. 98.200
32 Michael McDowell 98.002
33 Josh Wise 97.957
34 Austin Dillon 97.886
35 Cole Whitt 97.802
36 Landon Cassill 97.759
37 David Stremme 97.684
38 Ryan Truex 97.598
39 David Gilliland 97.458
40 Michael Annett 97.217
41 Parker Kligerman 97.078
42 Reed Sorenson 97.053
43 Joe Nemechek 96.332
Failed to qualify: David Reutimann
Follow me @JerryBonkowski
Dec 17, 2014, 8:47 PM EST
NASCAR revealed the 2015 schedules for the Whelen Modified Tour and its Southwest Modified Tour, including a first-time visit at the legendary Hickory (NC) Motor Speedway.
Dec 17, 2014, 7:23 PM EST
Do you like watching old racing videos and programs from the past? If so, you’re going to love this BBC video about NHRA drag racing from back in 1990.
Dec 17, 2014, 6:38 PM EST
Kurt Busch got the chance to tell his side in the legal battle with former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. We break down what Kurt said in court on NASCAR America.
Dec 17, 2014, 5:16 PM EST
Kurt Busch testified Wednesday he asked former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll numerous times to leave his motorcoach on the night she claims the NASCAR driver struck her head several times.
Dec 17, 2014, 3:03 PM EST
The race to the finish line of Phase 1 of Daytona Rising at Daytona International Speedway kicked into high gear Wednesday, with a record 1,002 construction workers on-site.
Dec 17, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup’s status grew in 2014. We caught up with the series manager during Austin F1 weekend.
Dec 17, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
Ferrari mass exodus continues.
Dec 17, 2014, 1:30 PM EST
At least two IndyCar stars will join the Rolex 24 lineup, but teams are TBD.
Dec 17, 2014, 1:23 PM EST
Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and 2014 Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year, will race for Red Horse Racing in 2015, the team announced Wednesday.
Dec 17, 2014, 12:46 PM EST
As we continue our series on the top 30 drivers of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, next up is series veteran Greg Biffle.
Dec 17, 2014, 12:10 PM EST
James Hinchcliffe tests Tuesday at Sebring with Schmidt Peterson.
Dec 17, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Crafton made history in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year as its first back-to-back champion.
Dec 17, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
Allmendinger propelled his single-car team into the Chase with a win at Watkins Glen.
Dec 17, 2014, 10:32 AM EST
We’ve all been there, Jimmie. We’ve all been there.
Dec 17, 2014, 9:00 AM EST
No drivers, but DCR’s shock/damper program should be good in 2015.
Dec 16, 2014, 8:04 PM EST
It’s not an ideal situation for NASCAR, but as the NASCAR AMERICA gang explained today, it’s not a hopeless one either.
Dec 16, 2014, 7:14 PM EST
Patricia Driscoll broke down on the stand during the hearing in Dover, Delaware.
Dec 16, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
A two-day website auction on the assets of the former F1 outfit began today.
Dec 16, 2014, 4:44 PM EST
Scott Hargrove to test for 8Star’s Indy Lights team.
Dec 16, 2014, 4:30 PM EST
Coming up: What will Sprint’s departure in 2016 mean for NASCAR’s future?; Steve Letarte revisits his final race as a crew chief; more on the health of Brian Vickers; the inspiring story of the NHRA’s Jay Blake.
Video from NASCAR America
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- Health issues to sideline Brian Vickers for early part of 2015 Sprint Cup season 5