CONCORD, N.C.—NASCAR's stars were out under the lights in Charlotte but the real stars were the cars.
Temperatures were down and speeds way up as drivers set the field for the Coke 600.
Kurt Busch grabbed the provisional pole with a hot lap at 195.221 miles an hour midway through the session.
That held up until Denny Hamlin took the track, taking advantage of a late number, blistering the Charlotte Motor Speedway surface to the tune of 195.624 miles per hour to shatter the track record. He was one of eight drivers to do so, as Hamlin claimed his second pole of the season.
“We have a mission ahead and that’s to make the chase. The best way to do that is to win races. To win races you’re gonna have to have every advantage you can, one of them being the number one pit stall. I really just committed to running the best lap I could and pushing every envelope that I normally don’t push,” Hamlin said.
KURT BUSCH/STARTS 2ND IN COKE 600:
“I knew we might get beat by somebody. I was just hoping that we might get a gift but Denny Hamlin laid it down and it was incredible to watch. His car hugged the line in three and four exactly like you’d watch cars back in the day in the nineties when Jeff Gordon would hunt the line. It was awesome,” Kurt Busch said.
Hamlin's Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth will start third Sunday night.
“I was happy that he made the pole. When you see somebody come back you always want them to do good. But you don’t wanna see them beat ya. But you wanna see them do good so I was happy for that team and for Denny,” Matt Kenseth said.
Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer round out the top five for Sunday's race. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. starts 11th right in front of his Hendrick teammate, Jimmie Johnson.
Hamlin claims his first pole in 16 Charlotte starts. He's the fastest of 5 Toyotas that start inside the top ten.