Is Bristol where Denny Hamlin's season hits a positive note?
Hamlin qualified on the pole for Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race with a speed of , beating Kurt Busch for the pole by 23 thousandths of a second.
Last season, Hamlin won the August Bristol race and the following race at Atlanta to vault himself to the top seed in the Chase. This season, a win or two or three won't get Hamlin into the Chase, but it'll be some dearly needed success for a team that has struggled this season.
Hamlin was hurt in a crash while battling for the lead at California and subsequently missed four races. But in the 19 races he's participated in this season, he has just four top 10 finishes, the last one coming at Pocono in June.
For Busch, he's got another great chance at a win to solidify his Chase hopes. He's currently in the top 10 but without the benefit of a win as a cushion if he's to fall out of the top 10 and into the Wild Card morass of 11th-20th in the standings.
Carl Edwards was third, Brian Vickers was fourth and Matt Kenseth was fifth. Mike Bliss missed the race.
Kyle Busch, who won Wednesday night's Camping World Truck Series race and starts first for Friday night's Nationwide Series race, spun on his second qualifying attempt and hit the wall. (We say second because after brushing the wall on his first lap, Busch stopped and turned around before his second lap for momentum taking the green flag.) He'll start last.