Denny Hamlin has won the pole for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry drove to the top of the leaderboard with a lap of 97.840 mph, three-hundredths of a second quicker than Chase Elliott. Given Elliott’s engine failure a few minutes into the opening practice session Saturday, Elliott will have to fall to the rear of the field during the pace laps Sunday. However, he will keep his pit selection.
In third was Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. at 97.463 mph. Rounding out the top five were the Ford Mustangs of Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola (97.432 mph) and Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell (97.252 mph).
Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney will start sixth, then SHR’s Clint Bowyer, JGR’s Erik Jones, SHR’s Daniel Suarez and Penske’s Joey Logano. The remaining playoff drivers, JGR’s Kyle Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson ans SHR’s Kevin Harvick, will line up 13th, 14th and 22nd, respectively.
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series veteran Matt Crafton will race in Front Row Motorsports’ No. 36 after Matt Tifft was taken to the hospital for undisclosed medical reasons. Crafton technically has only one career MENCS start, filling in for Kyle Busch in the Daytona 500 in 2015, though he drove to a 16th-place finish in relief of Paul Menard at Talladega two weeks ago.
The First Data 500 will go green around 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 27, with TV coverage on NBCSN.