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Amy Henderson · Thursday May 23, 2013
Denny Hamlin shattered the track qualifying record at Charlotte Motor Speedway as he rocketed to the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. Hamlin had a lap time of 27.604 seconds, or 195.624 miles per hour. Several drivers drove past the old record, set by Greg Biffle in 2012, but it was Hamlin who came out at the top of the heap and holds the new record. Kurt Busch will start on the outside of the front row. Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, and Clint Bowyer round out the top 5. Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, and Ryan Newman hold down sixth through tenth places.
The pole is Hamlin’s second of 2013; he also started in front at Fontana before an injury in that race sidelined him for over a month. Hamlin says that his back feels “nearly 100%” and that it doesn’t cause him pain while driving. He added that winning the pole helped solidify for him that he is back at a competitive level, but he wants one more thing before he’ll be satisfied.
“I think winning would do that. I think ultimately getting the big trophy on Sunday is the validation that you’re truly back,” said Hamlin after his lap. “For me, it’s going to take some wins and some really good consistency throughout these summer months to put ourselves in position to have a chance at a championship. That’s what we’re here for. Even these small victories though give me that confidence that I’m still capable, and I’m still able to do the job at 100 percent like I should be. Any kind of confidence booster for me — it’s always a plus on Sunday.”
The Cup teams are next on track Saturday at 10 AM for the weekend’s second practice. Final practice for Sunday’s race is Saturday afternoon at one o’clock. The Coca-Cola 600 is scheduled to start at 6 PM on Sunday and will air on FOX.
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