A great first lap and a sudden rainstorm were all Denny Hamlin needed to win the pole position for Sunday’s Ally 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway (5 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
With his 23XI Racing team co-owner Michael Jordan watching the action, Hamlin was fastest in the first round of qualifying with a lap in 29.848 seconds (160.413 mph), and when an unexpected downpour forced cancelation of the final round, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota earned the first starting position for the 17th event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
With the final round rained out, starting positions were determined by Round 1 speeds.
Hamlin edged Joey Logano (160.107 mph) for the pole by .057 seconds . Logano topped the chart in Group B after Hamlin was fastest in Group A.
The Busch Pole Award was Hamlin’s first at Nashville, his second of the season and the 35th of his career.
Defending race winner and reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Larson qualified third at 159.963 mph, followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott at 159.931 mph. Daniel Suarez and Ryan Blaney qualified on Row 3.
Bubba Wallace, who drives for Hamlin and Jordan at 23XI, was fast in practice but couldn’t back up his speed in time trials. Wallace will start 30th on Sunday.
“I told him (Jordan) he should have stayed in the bus,” Hamlin said with a chuckle. “He agreed. It’s pressure. There’s a lot of pressure when he’s out there.
“Bubba was fast. He blew by us and left us by a straightaway (Friday) in the first round of practice… When I saw him driving into Turn 1 on TV (in qualifying), he carried a tremendous amount of speed, and obviously, it didn’t stick.”
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