One of Denny Hamlin's best tracks is Martinsville Speedway. Though we can't blame you for forgetting that in the midst of all of the discussion surrounding Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.
Since returning from the back injury he suffered at California, Hamlin has struggled. The top 10 he had at Charlotte was his first since in June at Pocono. Start of a run? Well, last week at Talladega, his engine blew.
On Friday, Hamlin reminded everyone that he's pretty good at Martinsville, and got the pole for Sunday's race. Before qualifying, Hamlin said he'd be a factor, but that his team hadn't done anything this season to deserve favorite status.
"I think that we need to perform on the race track and they'll notice us tomorrow and they'll notice us Sunday, but I don't feel any type of entitlement to being a favorite. Especially how we've run these last six months or so has been very tough," Hamlin said.
"We've definitely been sort of a non-factor I guess you could say as far as race wins are concerned. I think for the competition or anyone from the outside to think that the 11 is going to be the favorite going into a track where we struggled to run top-10 lately would be farfetched. However, I'm pretty sure and pretty confident that we're going to be a pretty large force on Sunday."
He's been a large force in qualifying despite the limited schedule. Friday was his fifth pole. But outside of finishing fourth in the Coca-Cola 600, those strong qualifying results haven't meant good race finishes. He ended up 25th at California after the crash, 34th at Dover, and 28th at Bristol.
As for Johnson and Kenseth, we'll they'll be nose-to-tail when the green flag drops. Johnson qualified second to Hamlin and Kenseth was fourth. Kyle Busch will start third and Clint Bowyer will start fifth.
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