RELATED: Complete starting lineup BRISTOL, Tenn. -- If it's pole day in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Joe Gibbs Racing must be celebrating. Denny Hamlin powered his No. 11 Toyota around .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway in 14.602 seconds (131.407 mph) on Friday to win the pole for Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race (on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET). In breaking Kevin Harvick 's August 2014 track qualifying record by .005 seconds, Hamlin won his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his third at Bristol and the 22nd of his career. JGR swept the top three spots in qualifying for the second straight week, having accomplished the feat last Saturday on the two-mile track at Michigan International Speedway. The pole was JGR's fifth straight on an oval track ( AJ Allmendinger , in a JTG Daugherty Chevrolet, claimed the top starting spot for the Aug. 9 race on the road course at Watkins Glen). Hamlin edged teammate Kyle Busch (131.263 mph) by .016 seconds. Carl Edwards (130.655 mph) took the third starting spot, followed by David Ragan in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota (130.460 mph) and Joey Logano in a Team Penske Ford (130.344 mph). Hamlin also won the pole for Friday night's NASCAR XFINITY Series race. "To have that two nights in a row here is hopefully going to pay dividends," Hamlin said. "We're excited. Bristol's been a great track for me in the past, and we've got nothing to lose this weekend, just gearing up for the Chase, so I think our FedEx team's ready." Hamlin has a victory at Bristol in addition to his two poles, and with a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup position guaranteed by virtue of his victory at Martinsville in April, he can go all-out for a win on Saturday night without fear of consequences. Busch fought handling issues in the final two rounds of knockout qualifying and went for broke on his final attempt in the last round. "We were just a little too free there the second segment and the first run of the third segment," Busch said. "It's a little edgy up there, so you try not to push too hard, but still make a good lap and come back safely. "Then there at the end we tried a ‘Hail Mary' and it worked. It picked us up speed, but it didn't pick us up that spot." Brad Keselowski , Kevin Harvick , Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson grabbed the sixth through 10th spots on the grid, respectively. The qualifying effort was Stenhouse's best of the year. Jeff Gordon will start 24th in his last race at Bristol as a full-time Sprint Cup driver. Travis Kvapil , Jeb Burton and Reed Sorenson failed to make the 43-car field.
RELATED: Full starting lineup Denny Hamlin was the car to beat in Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway, leading all three rounds en route to his first career XFINITY pole at the Tennessee short track. Hamlin rounded the 0.533-mile oval at 126.896 mph in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Hamlin's JGR teammate Kyle Busch will also start on the front row in tonight's Food City 300 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Busch used a fast lap of 126.312 mph to snag the runner-up spot in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Kevin Harvick , piloting the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend, will roll off the grid third (126.021 mph), while Richard Childress Racing 's Brian Scott will start fourth (125.996 mph). Points leader Chris Buescher rounded out the top five in his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford with a fast lap of 125.699 mph. Practice leader Brendan Gaughan advanced to the second round, but wasn't able to make the final round and will start 15th in tonight's event. Reigning series champion Chase Elliott advanced to the the final round and will roll off the grid 10th tonight.
Miss Coors Light, Amanda Mertz, catches up with Denny Hamlin after he secures the pole for the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
RELATED: See all 43 cars " Starting lineup for Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Matt Kenseth 's No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota crew woke a sleeping giant just in time for qualifying for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) at Michigan International Speedway. But Kenseth jokingly credited a sleepless night -- brought on by worry over teammate Denny Hamlin 's lack of punctuality -- for his pole-winning effort in Friday's time trials at the two-mile track. Getting the most out of the high-drag aerodynamic package in force at the event at Michigan, Kenseth covered the distance in 36.458 seconds (197.488 mph) to win his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at MIS and the 16th of his career. Hamlin (196.990 mph) was second fastest, and Carl Edwards (196.276 mph) claimed the third starting spot, as Joe Gibbs Racing swept the top three positions on the grid for the 23rd Sprint Cup race of the season. Austin Dillon (195.918 mph) qualified fourth as the top Chevrolet in the field, followed by Tony Stewart (195.477 mph) in a Chevrolet and Kyle Busch (195.450 mph) in the fourth JGR Toyota. Joey Logano , last week's winner at Watkins Glen, qualified 10th as the only Ford driver to crack the top 12. Based on practice speed, Edwards was a favorite to win the pole, but Kenseth, who was 10th on the speed chart in the opening practice session, closed the gap in time from qualifying. "We were a long ways off Carl in practice, and I don't even know what changes they made, but they changed a lot of stuff that really woke this thing up and had some speed," Kenseth said. "I knew I got through (Turns) 1 and 2 good, but Denny put up such a fast lap, and I got into (Turn) 3, and I was bound and determined that I was going to make it wide open. "I had the first half of the corner. It was the second half that was starting to get exciting. I got sliding up the track and bogged down a little bit. I wasn't sure that we were going have it, but I have to say thanks to those guys (the crew). They gave me a car with a lot of speed." In Hamlin's view, Busch's return from an injury has achieved a critical mass of four talented, veteran drivers at JGR who can benefit from each other's expertise. "When you have drivers that you can feed off of, like the three teammates that I have, it makes a difference, and so that's where you're seeing the results," Hamlin said. That didn't prevent the driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry from throwing a barb toward the 43-year-old teammate who beat him for the pole. "Matt was probably too old to remember to lift there," Hamlin said of Kenseth's qualifying run. Kenseth provided a different perspective. "I could say it's because I didn't get enough sleep," Kenseth said. "I flew up with Denny today, and he likes to come to everything at the last minute. I didn't sleep last night thinking that we weren't going to make it up here, so it's really just for lack of sleep. I get to credit Denny for the pole." Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Logano completed the top 10. Reed Sorenson failed to make the 43-car field.
RELATED: Qualifying speeds Alex Tagliani won the Coors Light Pole Award on Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, posting a speed of 96.056 mph in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford during the second and final round of group qualifying. He'll start first later today in the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), with defending race winner Chris Buescher starting second. In his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Buescher posted a speed of 95.776 mph. Ty Dillon will start third, followed by Boris Said and Brian Scott . Defending series champion Chase Elliott claimed the sixth starting spot. Saturday's road-course qualifing consisted of a 25-minute first round, with the 12 cars advancing to a 10-minute final round. The results of the final round set the order for the top 12. The opening round was delayed for approximately 15 minutes after Darrell Wallace Jr . appeared to lose power and needed help back to pit road. Justin Marks , who led Friday's second practice, will start 13th.
Miss Coors Light Amanda Mertz talks with Matt Kenseth at Michigan International Speedway after winning his third Coors Light Pole of the 2015 season.
Miss Coors Light Amanda Mertz talks with AJ Allmendinger at Watkins Glen International after winning his fourth career pole and his second of the 2015 season.
RELATED: Updated Chase Grid Ain't no party like a NASCAR party! As the regular season nears its end and The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rapidly approaches, so too does the annual fan celebration to mark its beginning -- NASCAR Chase Fest. Taking place, once again, in Chicago on Sept. 17 ahead of the first Challenger Round race at Chicagoland Speedway , Chase Fest sponsored by Toyota and Sprint provides a free outdoor fan fest featuring appearances and autograph sessions with all 16 Chase drivers and other NASCAR personalities. Grammy-nominated 3 Doors Down will help keep the party flowing with a concert, as well as a performance by Chicago's popular country cover band, the Suburban Cowboys. Fans in attendance also will have a plethora of meal and drink options, with food being provided by Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and beverages by Coors Light. Additional entertainment will include the Toyota Ferris Wheel and the NASCAR on NBC Sports Bumper Cars. The events of the day will be covered by NBCSN, including Krista Voda, Kyle Petty, Marty Snider and Rutledge Wood, for the network's live broadcast of "NASCAR America." Chase Fest will take place on Weed Street between Fremont and Kingsbury streets from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time. For full details on this year's Chase Fest, click here .
Joe Gibbs Racing driver scores first pole since 2013 RELATED: Full starting lineup for New Hampshire " See how every car looks LOUDON, N.H. -- As Carl Edwards put it, "things just feel right." That was Edwards' take on the state of affairs at Joe Gibbs Racing , after he put his No. 19 Toyota on the pole for Sunday's 5-hour ENERGY 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). "Right now it just feels right," said Edwards, who toured the Magic Mile in 28.179 seconds (135.164 mph) in Friday's qualifying session to earn his first Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at New Hampshire and the 14th of his career. "It's just cool, man. My expectation is to do the best we can (on Sunday). My hope is that we win this thing. ... We've been working very hard to bring this team together to be the best that we can be. It just feels right. This is cool. It's a lot of fun." With JGR teammate Kyle Busch winning last Saturday’s event at Kentucky, the organization placed all its drivers in the top five, with Denny Hamlin , Edwards and Matt Kenseth trailing second-place Joey Logano of Team Penske . Coincidentally, Logano (135.021 mph) qualified second to Edwards on Friday, with Michael Waltrip Racing 's David Ragan third (also at 135.021 mph) and Busch (134.025 mph) and Hamlin (134.601 mph) fourth and fifth, respectively. Edwards, who improved dramatically on his previous average starting position of 14.9 at New Hampshire, didn’t believe initially that he had won the pole until he got reassurance from crew chief Darian Grubb. On the other hand, Logano wasn't particularly thrilled to run second to a Gibbs driver for the second time in six days. "Second -- it seems like the story of our week, coming off Kentucky with a strong second-place run and then qualifying second here as well," Logano said. "Not that I'm complaining about it, but it's not much fun finishing second, being so close to getting trophies and pole flags and all the fun stuff. "There's not really much fun that happens when you finish second, but we're close. We've got speed in our race car once again." Danica Patrick advanced to the second round of knockout qualifying and will start 20th, one spot behind Dale Earnhardt Jr . Jeff Gordon , still seeking his first victory in his last season of full-time Sprint Cup racing, will start 23rd. "Yeah, it's not been a good day for us with the No. 24 car," Gordon acknowledged. "We've been struggling getting the car to do what we need it to do. Just real tight through the center, need to get it to rotate, need some front grip, so we will go to work on it (Saturday in practice). "It's disappointing that we didn't qualify better. We typically qualify well here and perform well here. We'll put this day behind us and go work on it tomorrow and get it ready for Sunday." Reed Sorenson , this week's driver in the Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet, failed to qualify for the 43-car field for the fifth time this season. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
JGR driver claims back-to-back poles at Loudon, Indy RELATED: Full Indy lineup INDIANAPOLIS -- If Toyota and Ford are to break the Chevrolet stranglehold on Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the two manufacturers took a positive step in that direction during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series time trials on Saturday. Underscoring the recent resurgence of Joe Gibbs Racing , Carl Edwards toured the 2.5-mile track in 49.056 seconds (183.464 mph) to put his No. 19 Toyota on the pole for Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at The Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM), edging Joey Logano 's Team Penske Ford (183.139 mph) by .087 seconds. David Ragan (182.886 mph) qualified third in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Fourth-place qualifier Tony Stewart (182.823 mph) had the fastest Chevrolet in the final round. Chevrolets have won the last 12 Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis. Stewart, though, had the fastest lap of the afternoon (185.547 mph) in the first round of time trials, which trimmed the number of drivers eligible for the pole from 46 to 12. The Coors Light Pole Award was Edwards' first at the Brickyard, his second of the season, his second in a row and the 15th of his career. "After yesterday, this is amazing," Edwards said. "We started so slow yesterday and we struggled. I think at one point (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) and I were looking at each other going, 'What are we going to do here?' "It was a struggle, and everybody buckled down, worked hard -- I'm so proud of my guys. TRD and Toyota have been putting so much effort into this whole program. Stanley has been behind us 100 percent -- not just me, but Matt Kenseth and our whole team. This is big. It will be neat to start up front." Kyle Busch , Edwards' JGR teammate, will start ninth on Sunday in search of his third consecutive victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Sidelined for the first 11 events of the season by injuries sustained in an accident at Daytona in February, Busch has won three of the last four races and has seven races left in which to regain eligibility for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by finishing the regular season in the top 30 in the series standings. Entering Sunday's race, Busch is 33rd in points, 58 behind David Gilliland in 30th place. Behind Stewart, Kyle Larson , Kevin Harvick , Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr . will line up fifth through eighth on the grid. After qualifying, Logano and Ragan were quick to point out an unusual coincidence. Edwards, Logano and Ragan started 1-2-3, in that order, a week before at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a one-mile flat track. The Sprint Cup cars are running a completely different high-drag aerodynamic package this week, with a nine-inch-tall rear spoiler and a one-inch wicker. Last week at Loudon, the cars featured the regular 2015 rules package with a six-inch spoiler. "David and I were just laughing up here that these are the same three race cars that started up front at Loudon," Logano said. "A completely different race track, different package and the same cars are fast. It's good for us. We're close. Second always hurts, but it's nice to be up toward the front, especially here." Jeff Gordon 's final run at Indianapolis as a full-time driver didn't start the way the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet would have hoped. "I really think our 3M Chevrolet is really good," said Gordon, who qualified 19th. "It's been good all weekend. I feel like I underestimated the grip. I had a little wiggle out of three coming to the green and that concerned me slightly. The grip was there in Turn 4, and I was aggressive into Turn 1, but not aggressive enough. "That's what's disappointing; it wasn't a balance issue or a speed issue. I didn't get enough speed through (Turn) 1. It adds up with this new package. Yeah, I'm pretty disappointed to start back there." Notes: Josh Wise , Jeb Burton and Reed Sorenson failed to make the 43-car field. ... Ryan Newman ’s time was disallowed because he ran his lap without the mandatory right-side window in his car. Newman will start 43rd on Sunday on a provisional.