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Qualifying report
NASCAR Cup Nashville

NASCAR Cup Nashville: Hamlin beats Berry, Bell to pole position

Denny Hamlin took the first important step to halt a precarious three-race slide by winning the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Nashville Superspeedway.

Hamlin, who has won the last three races held on concrete tracks, is in good position to make it four in a row at the 1.33-mile speedway.

On a blistering hot day, Hamlin was the last driver to go out in the final round but still managed to lay down the fastest lap of the day at 160.354 mph to edge his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell for the pole (159.845 mph).

The pole is Hamlin’s second of the 2024 season and 42nd of his career. The driver of JGR’s No. 11 Toyota has three wins this season but has finished 24th or worse in his last three races.

“We had to work on the balance a little bit but the speed was there,” Hamlin said. “Really happy with this team. They brought a great car today and I’m glad we were able to capitalize on it.

“The driver has not been very good during qualifying sessions this year. But to get a good one today, that No. 1 pit stall will help.”

Because of NASCAR’s new lineup procedures, Josh Berry will actually start the race on the front row, followed by Bell, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Tyler Reddick, William Byron, Ty Gibbs, Chris Buescher and Austin Cindric.

Gibbs had been fastest in practice earlier on Saturday.

Round 1 / Group B

The JGR duo of Hamlin and Bell led the way in the second session with Hamlin topping the leaderboard with an average lap at 159.536 mph – the fastest of the day at the time.

Bell was second at 159.483 mph while Byron ended up third (158.753 mph).

Also moving on to the final round of qualifying were Buescher and Keselowski.

Among those who failed to advance were Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch.

Justin Haley did not participate in qualifying on Saturday. After passing initial inspection, the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Ford team was penalized for making an unapproved adjustment.

The team will also lose pit selection and car chief J.R. Norris was ejected from the track. Additionally, Haley will have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field and perform a drive through penalty down pit road after taking the green flag.

Round 1 / Group A

Larson, the last car out in the first group, went right to the top of the leaderboard with an average lap speed of 159.414 mph.

Berry was second fastest (159.133 mph) and Reddick ended up third (159.101 mph).

Also advancing to the final round of qualifying were Gibbs – who was fastest in practice – and Cindric.

Among those who failed to move on were Alex Bowman, Michael McDowell, reigning series champion Ryan Blaney and last year’s race winner, Ross Chastain.

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