MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Denny Hamlin has won the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway.
Hamlin turned a fast lap of 97.018 miles per hour on the 0.526-mile oval Friday. Marcos Ambrose earned the outside front-row spot with a speed of 97.003 mph.
Hamlin is 41 points behind Jimmie Johnson in the series standings with five races remaining. He says this is the first time his team has used Friday practice to focus solely on qualifying in his career, and the move clearly paid off.
The pole-sitter gets the first pit stall selection, and Hamlin's will be at the front of pit road, giving him a clear path onto the track after stopping for service.
Johnson qualified 19th and Kevin Harvick, who is third in points, will start 36th.