Hamlin earns Richmond pole

The Chase for the Nextel Cup just got a little easier for rookie Denny Hamlin. Hamlin knocked off the fastest lap during time trials for the Nextel Cup series Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Hamlin's lap of 127.986 mph...

The Chase for the Nextel Cup just got a little easier for rookie Denny Hamlin. Hamlin knocked off the fastest lap during time trials for the Nextel Cup series Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Hamlin's lap of 127.986 mph just eclipsed the field for the top starting spot.

Hamlin is currently seventh in Nextel Cup point standings but has not been mathematically locked into the 2006 Chase class yet. Starting up front gives Hamlin the advantage of picking a superior pit stall and not getting caught in trouble at the back of the pack.

It is Hamlin and the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolets third pole of the season and career fourth.

"I felt like the door was open, because we were tight," Hamlin commented. "But then again we were pretty good in three and four so I wasn't sure. But we held on and we got the pole. I thought there was no way we were going to get it."

Jeff Burton will start on the outside pole after posting a lap of 127.805 mph.

"I was really happy with our car," said Burton. "It did everything we wanted it to do. Sometimes when you get done qualifying you feel like you left something here or there and I didn't feel that way."

Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Kevin Harvick completed the top five.

"I was really happy with the car all day," said Gordon. "We went out there and the car did what we wanted it to do. I was happy with the way it turned and how it stuck when we got in the gas. I was really happy with it."

Forty-eight cars attempted to qualify for the forty-three car field; failing to make the show were Michael Waltrip, Derrike Cope, Mike Wallace, Hermie Sadler and Ted Christopher.

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Derrike Cope , Jeff Gordon , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Mike Wallace , Hermie Sadler , Ted Christopher , Mark Martin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing