Hamlin sets new track qualifying record at Charlotte

7:46 PM, May 23, 2013   |    comments
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Concord, NC (Sports Network) - Denny Hamlin easily broke the track qualifying record at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday night to earn the pole for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 -- the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

Hamlin, who was the 39th driver in the 44-car qualifying order, turned a lap at a blistering 195.624 mph. It marked the 14th career Sprint Cup pole for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, including his second of the season and his first at Charlotte.

Hamlin's first pole this season came in March at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. He suffered a compression fracture in his lower back during an accident on the final lap at Fontana and ended up missing the next four races -- Martinsville, Texas, Kansas and Richmond. Hamlin returned to his No. 11 JGR Toyota earlier this month at Darlington, where he finished second to teammate Matt Kenseth.

The top-eight finishers in qualifying surpassed the previous track record of 193.708 mph, set by Greg Biffle last October.

Kurt Busch continued his hot streak in qualifying by claiming the outside pole with a lap at 195.221 mph. Busch won the pole at Darlington and qualified second for last weekend's all-star race at Charlotte.

Kenseth secured the third starting position, followed by Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer.

Kasey Kahne, the defending race winner, Biffle, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman finished sixth through 10th, respectively, in qualifying.

Jimmie Johnson, who won the all-star race for a record fourth time, will start 12th in the 600-miler, one spot behind his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Danica Patrick qualified 24th.

The Sports Network

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