Hamlin edges Reddick for first Cup pole award at Sonoma

Denny Hamlin saved his best lap for the last as he claimed the Busch pole position for the 2023 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday, June 10.

The three-time Daytona 500 champion from Chesterfield, Virginia, posted a pole-winning lap at 92.178 mph in 77.719 seconds, which was enough to claim the top starting spot over his 23XI Racing driver Tyler Reddick, who ended up posting the second-best qualifying lap at 92.068 mph in 77.812 seconds.

With his accomplishment, Hamlin notched his 38th NASCAR Cup Series career pole, his first at Sonoma and second of the 2023 season. He also recorded the 138th Cup career pole overall for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Through 629 previous starts and 49 victories in NASCAR’s premier series, Hamlin’s lone victory on a Cup road course venue occurred at Watkins Glen International in August 2016. Two months earlier, he was in position to win at Sonoma until he got bumped and overtook by former teammate and three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart on the final lap and final corner, which relegated him back to second place in the final running order. With a total of seven top-10 results and an average-finishing result of 17.9 through 16 previous starts at Sonoma, Hamlin will aim to achieve his first victory at Sonoma on Sunday, June 11.

Reddick, who won at Circuit of the Americas in March and at Road America in July 2022, will start alongside his owner Hamlin on the front row.

Michael McDowell, who finished third at Sonoma a year ago, posted the third-fastest qualifying lap at 92.060 mph in 77.819 seconds. Christopher Bell will line up in fourth place while AJ Allmendinger, who is pulling double-duty roles between the Xfinity Series and Cup Series doubleheader features this weekend, will start fifth.

Following suit on the starting grid is rookie Ty Gibbs along with Chris Buescher and Martin Truex Jr., thus placing five Toyota competitors in the top eight starting spots. Daniel Suarez, who notched his first Cup career victory at Sonoma a year ago, will line up in ninth place while Chase Elliott, who returns from a one-race suspension, will complete the top-10 starting lineup in 10th.

Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch, teammates of Richard Childress Racing, will start 11th and 12th, respectively, after both were the first two competitors to miss the final round cutoff to contend for pole position.

Notably, Kyle Larson, who started on pole in the last five Cup events at Sonoma, will line up in 16th. In addition, teammate Alex Bowman will start 14th in front of Ross Chastain, Joey Logano will start 17th in front of Bubba Wallace, Kevin Harvick will line up 21st in his 23rd and final start at Sonoma, William Byron will start in 26th behind Brad Keselowski and regular-season points leader Ryan Blaney will start Sunday’s event in 31st.

In addition, road-ringer Andy Lally will line up 33rd while Grant Enfinger, who is filling in for rookie Noah Gragson as Gragson continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms, will start 35th.

Qualifying position, speed, time

1. Denny Hamlin, 92.178 mph, 77.719 seconds

2. Tyler Reddick, 92.068 mph, 77.812 seconds

3. Michael McDowell, 92.060 mph, 77.819 seconds

4. Christopher Bell, 91.877 mph, 77.974 seconds

5. AJ Allmendinger, 91.873 mph, 77.977 seconds

6. Ty Gibbs, 91.819 mph, 78.023 seconds

7. Chris Buescher, 91.811 mph, 78.030 seconds

8. Martin Truex Jr., 91.736 mph, 78.094 seconds

9. Daniel Suarez, 91.449 mph, 78.339 seconds

10. Chase Elliott, 91.308 mph, 78.460 seconds

11. Austin Dillon, 91.780 mph, 78.056 seconds

12. Kyle Busch, 91.703 mph, 78.122 seconds

13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 91.425 mph, 78.359 seconds

14. Alex Bowman, 91.380 mph, 78.398 seconds

15. Ross Chastain, 91.347 mph, 78.426 seconds

16. Kyle Larson, 91.341 mph, 78.431 seconds

17. Joey Logano, 91.289 mph, 78.476 seconds

18. Bubba Wallace, 91.254 mph, 78.506 seconds

19. Corey LaJoie, 91.126 mph, 78.616 seconds

20. Aric Almirola, 91.087 mph, 78.650 seconds

21. Kevin Harvick, 91.052 mph, 78.680 seconds

22. Ryan Preece, 91.052 mph, 78.680 seconds

23. Justin Haley, 90.995 mph, 78.730 seconds

24. Chase Briscoe, 90.958 mph, 78.762 seconds

25. Brad Keselowski, 90.707 mph, 78.980 seconds

26. William Byron, 90.569 mph, 79.100 seconds

27. Ty Dillon, 90.525 mph, 79.138 seconds

28. Erik Jones, 90.311 mph, 79.326 seconds

29. Josh Bilicki, 90.261 mph, 79.370 seconds

30. Zane Smith, 790.115 mph, 79.498 seconds

31. Ryan Blaney, 90.001 mph, 79.599 seconds

32. Todd Gilliland, 89.862 mph, 79.722 seconds

33. Andy Lally, 89.789 mph, 79.787 seconds

34. Austin Cindric, 89.718 mph, 79.850 seconds

35. Grant Enfinger, 89.301 mph, 80.223 seconds

36. Harrison Burton, 89.148 mph, 80.361 seconds

With the starting lineup set, the 2023 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway is set to occur on Sunday, June 11, at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


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