Hamlin leads Toyota stampede in Charlotte qualifying

CONCORD, N.C. – By the slimmest of margins, Denny Hamlin beat a car he owns for the Busch Light pole position in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

In the final round of time trials on Saturday evening, Hamlin ran a lower line through turns 3 and 4 than did his fellow competitors, and that paid off with a blistering lap of 29.399 seconds (183.680 mph) — just .003 seconds faster than that of Kurt Busch (183.661 mph) who drives the No. 45 23XI Toyota co-owned by Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Christopher Bell, qualified third at 183.655 mph (just .001 seconds slower than Busch), and teammate Kyle Busch followed at 183.505 mph, as Toyota drivers swept the top four grid positions in NASCAR Cup Series qualifying for the first time since the 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I had reps down there, so I kind of knew what I needed for my car,” Hamlin said of the line he ran. “I just thought — forward thinking — that this track was going to get a little better (in terms of grip), and certainly we would want to cut the most distance we could off, if the track continued to grip up.”

Hamlin has never won a Cup race at Charlotte. If he does so on Sunday, he’ll become the second active driver to win all three of NASCAR’s Crown Jewel races — the Daytona 500 (which he has won three times), the Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Kevin Harvick is the only active driver to accomplish that feat.

“I’ve had such fast cars here and such crazy luck that I’ve had here over the years,” Hamlin said. “Mistakes that I’ve made that kept us from winning. I just really want to get this one, especially since I’ve been a Coke partner for all 18 years or whatever of my career.”

William Byron qualified fifth in the fastest Chevrolet, with Austin Cindric following in sixth in the quickest Ford. Kurt Busch’s 23XI teammate, Bubba Wallace claimed the seventh spot on the grid, followed by Tyler Reddick, Alex Bowman and Michael McDowell.

Defending race winner Kyle Larson smacked the outside wall in Saturday’s practice and did not make a qualifying run, as his team attempted to repair the No. 5 Chevrolet. Larson will start from the rear on Sunday.

Brad Keselowski spun off turn 4 in the first-round qualifying lap and likewise will take the green flag from the back of the pack.

WDUN will carry live on-air coverage of the busy Sunday race day, beginning with live IndyCar Radio Network covage of the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning at noon on 102.9 FM, at 1 pm on AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.  Race day wraps up with PRN Radio coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway beginning at 5 pm on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.

NASCAR Cup Series
Charlotte Motor Speedway – Concord, NC
Coca-Cola 600 – May 28, 2022

Saturday’s Qualifying Results

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed
1. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 29.399 183.680
2. 45 Kurt Busch Monster Energy Toyota 29.402 183.661
3. 20 Christopher Bell Yahoo! Toyota 29.403 183.655
4. 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Red White and Blue Toyota 29.427 183.505
5. 24 William Byron Liberty University Patriotic Chevrolet 29.520 182.927
6. 2 Austin Cindric # Menards/Cardell Cabinetry Ford 29.621 182.303
7. 23 Bubba Wallace McDonald’s Toyota 29.623 182.291
8. 8 Tyler Reddick Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet 29.638 182.199
9. 48 Alex Bowman Ally Patriotic Chevrolet 29.643 182.168
10. 34 Michael McDowell Fr8Auctions.com Ford 29.820 181.087
11. 12 Ryan Blaney BodyArmor EDGE Ford 29.617 182.328
12. 99 Daniel Suarez CommScope Chevrolet 29.701 181.812
13. 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Chevrolet 29.721 181.690
14. 19 Martin Truex, Jr. Bass Pro Shops Red White and Blue Toyota 29.725 181.665
15. 14 Chase Briscoe Mahindra Tractors Ford 29.760 181.452
16. 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet 29.822 181.074
17. 21 Harrison Burton # Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford 29.865 180.814
18. 4 Kevin Harvick Mobil 1 Ford 29.868 180.796
19. 17 Chris Buescher Fifth Third Bank Ford 29.914 180.517
20. 31 Justin Haley LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 29.929 180.427
21. 41 Cole Custer Chicken Cock Whiskey Ford 29.929 180.427
22. 1 Ross Chastain Advent Health Chevrolet 29.946 180.325
23. 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 29.994 180.036
24. 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 30.020 179.880
25. 43 Erik Jones FOCUSfactor Chevrolet 30.020 179.880
26. 15 Ryan Preece(i) Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford 30.141 179.158
27. 16 Noah Gragson(i) Charlotte Knights Chevrolet 30.188 178.879
28. 42 Ty Dillon Black Rifle Coffee Company Chevrolet 30.223 178.672
29. 47 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Kroger/Reese’s Chevrolet 30.232 178.619
30. 38 Todd Gilliland # Boot Barn Ford 30.317 178.118
31. 78 B.J. McLeod Circle B Diecast Ford 30.469 177.229
32. 77 Josh Bilicki(i) Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet 30.729 175.730
33. 51 Cody Ware Nurtec ODT Military Salutes Ford 30.958 174.430
34. 50 Kaz Grala(i) SEGI TV Chevrolet 31.884 169.364
35. 6 Brad Keselowski Kohler Generators Ford 58.599 92.152
36. 5 Kyle Larson HendrickCars.com Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
37. 7 Corey LaJoie The USO & Coca-Cola Chevrolet 0.000 0.000

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series