NASCAR starting lineup at Watkins Glen: Denny Hamlin earns first pole of season

Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin (Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin took his first pole of the season and the 27th of his NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series career Saturday in qualifying for the GoBowling at the Glen in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Hamlin is hopeful his success on road courses will help lead to his first win of the season. He said his run Saturday wasn’t perfect, but he’ll take it.

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“I had a great day today,” Hamlin told NBCSN, “and hopefully we can cap it off (Sunday).”

Hamlin found NASCAR’s enhanced schedule helpful — with two practice sessions and qualifying on the same day.

“I typically haven’t qualified well here,” Hamlin said. “A lot of it is because we (traditionally) qualify on a different day than we practice. I think today, being able to use those repetitions and still be hot from practice and have things fresh in your mind — I just got a little faster each round, so that helped.”

Kyle Busch will start second in Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET, NBC). Chase Elliott, who was a mere three-thousandths of a second behind Busch, NASCAR’s points leader, will start in third.

Elliott was trending for the pole until the final turn.

“I felt like I had a good lap going, and then I got a little loose out of (Turn) 11 and thought I could stay in it,” Elliott said. “And then I thought I didn’t have any more room — I don’t know how close it was (to the wall), but it must have been pretty close.

“That sucks. I just hate to be that close.”

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Kevin Harvick will have to come from the middle of the pack to win for the first time at Watkins Glen. He qualified 16th.

The starting positions won’t be official until NASCAR inspects the cars before Sunday’s race.

Material from the NASCAR Wire Service was used in this report.

Starting lineup for the GoBowling at the Glen (provisional)

1. Denny Hamlin
2. Kyle Busch
3. Chase Elliott
4. Martin Truex Jr.
5. Kyle Larson
6. Joey Logano
7. Aric Almirola
8. AJ Allmendinger
9. Erik Jones
10. Kasey Kahne
11. Ryan Blaney
12. Michael McDowell
13. Jimmie Johnson
14. Paul Menard
15. Jamie McMurray
16. Kevin Harvick
17. William Byron
18. Brad Keselowski
19. Clint Bowyer
20. Ryan Newman
21. Kurt Busch
22. Chris Buescher
23. Daniel Suarez
24. Alex Bowman
25. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
26. Austin Dillon
27. David Ragan
28. Matt Kenseth
29. Parker Kligerman
30. Matt DiBenedetto
31. Darrell “Bubba” Wallace
32. Ty Dillon
33. Cole Whitt
34. Ross Chastain
35. Josh Bilicki
36. Spencer Gallagher
37. Landon Cassill