Denny Hamlin broke the track record Thursday with a lap of 195.624 mph to capture the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Hamlin, who has never won a Sprint Cup race at CMS, was one of eight drivers to top the previous record of 193.708 set last October by Greg Biffle.
It is Hamlin’s 14th career pole and his first at CMS.
Four Toyotas will start in the top five. Hamlin will start alongside Kurt Busch on the front row, followed by Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer.
Kasey Kahne will start sixth, Biffle seventh, Kyle Busch eighth, Jamie McMurray ninth and Ryan Newman rounds out the top 10.
Sprint All-Star race champion Jimmie Johnson starts 12th, one spot behind Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Danica Patrick, who has struggled on 1.5-mile tracks this season, starts 24th.
Tornado brings awareness
Owner Michael Waltrip and others in the NASCAR garage hope to bring attention to the needs of those affected by the Oklahoma tornadoes at the Coca-Cola 600 this weekend.
Michael Waltrip Racing’s three Sprint Cup cars will carry decals of Feed The Children, an Oklahoma City-based group that is providing food and resources to victims of the tornadoes. Michael Waltrip said he wanted to help out when he saw the devastation.
MWR cars driven by Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin will carry the decals in Sunday’s race.
Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said following his qualifying run Thursday that his sponsor, Lowe’s, would donate $1 million toward the Oklahoma tragedy and that Hendrick Motorsports would add to that total.
Authorities say there were 24 people killed by the tornadoes. An estimated 12,000 homes were damaged and destroyed.