Denny Hamlin Scores First Sonoma Pole, 38th-Career NASCAR Cup Pole
The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry rocketed to his second pole of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season over Tyler Reddick at the 1.99-mile road course in California.
Denny Hamlin stepped up in Round 2 of Saturday's NASCAR Cup Series qualifying session for Sunday's Toyota / Save Mart 350 Sonoma Raceway to score his second pole of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. For Hamlin, this is his first-career pole at the 1.99-mile road course in California, and it comes in his 17th start at the track.
Overall, Hamlin now has 38 pole positions in his illustrious NASCAR Cup Series career.
Hamlin's fastest lap in Round 2 was a 77.719 sec. lap, which equates to an average speed of 92.178 mph. Hamlin was able to defeat Tyler Reddick, who drives the No. 45 Toyota Camry for 23XI Racing -- the team Hamlin is a co-owner of, for the pole position by 0.093 sec.
Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell laid down the fastest lap of any driver in the opening round of Saturday's qualifying session, and McDowell backed that effort up by turning the third-fastest lap of Round 2 near the end of the session.
When McDowell fires off on Sunday afternoon, Christopher Bell will line up alongside him on the outside of Row 2 in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing machine.
AJ Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez, and Chase Elliott rounded out the drivers who will make up the top-10 starters in Sunday's race.
Elliott, who is making his return after a one-race suspension that he served last weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway, looked to have a car potentially capable of snagging the pole, but his No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 kicked sideways on his fast lap in the session, which relegated him to the 10th starting spot.
Austin Dillon was the best of the drivers that failed to advance to Round 2 of Saturday's NASCAR Cup Series qualifying session, as he will start from the 11th position on Sunday. Dillon's Richard Childress Racing teammate Kyle Busch secured the 12th starting spot for the race.
Kyle Larson, who was the favorite for the pole after pacing practice earlier in the day, made a few miscues during his two qualifying laps in Round 1. The first lap, Larson was far too aggressive. On the second lap, Larson was too passive. The end result? Larson missed Round 2, and will start 16th in the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
Photo Credit: Ben Earp, LAT Images, Courtesy of Toyota Racing