Denny Hamlin earns pole position at Watkins Glen

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are set to share the front row for Sunday's NASCAR Cup race at Watkins Glen International.

Denny Hamlin earns pole position at Watkins Glen

The pole-deciding round of qualifying lasted ten minutes and Kyle Busch was the first driver to put up a time, pacing WGI at 125.427mph.

Chase Elliott appeared to have the pace to best Busch, but after getting extremely wide out of the final corner, he fell 0.003 seconds short. It was Busch’s teammate Denny Hamlin who knocked him off the number one spot with a 125.534mph lap.

No one was able to match him with the Joe Gibbs Racing cars in the closing minutes with Hamlin and Busch on the provisional front row.

"Yeah, he's usually pretty good at this stuff," said Hamlin of beating Busch. "I knew once the 18 and 9 had went and I went behind them and they said I was P1, I thought we had a real shot at it.

It's amazing to me how well Kyle hits his marks and does not make mistakes, especially on a one-lap qualifying get it done moment. While I feel I make quite a few more mistakes and take repetitions to really maximize the speed out of my car, he does it right away."

A frustrated Elliott had to settle for third, and he was well aware of what could have been.

“Very  frustrating. I hate that. Feel like I had a real opportunity to grab pole today,” he said.

“That sucks.”

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Round 1

Michael McDowell went to the top of the charts early in the first round of qualifying, but with 14 minutes remaining, Elliott surged to the top if the board at 125.126mph. He remained there for the remainder of the session.

But the real battle was around the bubble.

In the closing seconds, the final transfer position changed hands often and rapidly. Ultimately, it came down to Jimmie Johnson and Truex.

Johnson bumped Truex with under a minute to go, but Truex was able to respond and he knocked Johnson back out. The margin between them: 0.008 seconds.

“There’s a lot of places you can give it up or make up time when things are going your way,” said the seven-time series champion. “Our car is very comfortable to drive … we will race well.”

Notably, Kevin Harvick was forced to abort his lap after wheel-hopping down into Turn 1, forced to settle for 16th on the time sheets. In fact, three of the four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers failed to advance with Clint Bowyer 19th and Kurt Busch 21st.

The drivers who advanced into the pole round were as follows, in order from fastest to slowest: Elliott, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Truex, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, McDowell and Kasey Kahne.

Cla # Driver 4506 Time Gap Mph
1 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 1'10.260   125.534
2 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 1'10.320 0.060 125.4a2
3 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 1'10.323 0.063 125.421
4 78 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 1'10.418 0.158 125.252
5 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 1'10.687 0.427 124.775
6 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 1'10.721 0.461 124.715
7 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 1'10.820 0.560 124.541
8 47 United States A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 1'10.891 0.631 124.416
9 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 1'10.897 0.637 124.406
10 95 United States Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 1'10.897 0.637 124.406
11 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 1'10.951 0.691 124.311
12 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 1'10.969 0.709 124.280
13 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 1'11.085 0.825 124.077
14 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 1'11.146 0.886 123.970
15 1 United States Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 1'11.161 0.901 123.944
16 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 1'11.167 0.907 123.934
17 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 1'11.194 0.934 123.887
18 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 1'11.196 0.936 123.883
19 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 1'11.211 0.951 123.857
20 31 United States Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 1'11.233 0.973 123.819
21 41 United States Kurt Busch  Ford 1'11.235 0.975 123.816
22 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 1'11.235 0.975 123.816
23 19 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 1'11.298 1.038 123.706
24 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 1'11.387 1.127 123.552
25 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 1'11.406 1.146 123.519
26 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 1'11.589 1.329 123.203
27 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 1'11.617 1.357 123.155
28 6 United States Matt Kenseth  Ford 1'11.871 1.611 122.720
29 96 United States Parker Kligerman  Toyota 1'12.038 1.778 122.435
30 32 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 1'12.201 1.941 122.159
31 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 1'12.224 1.964 122.120
32 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 1'12.328 2.068 121.944
33 72 United States Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 1'12.791 2.531 121.169
34 15 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 1'13.436 3.176 120.105
35 51 United States Josh Bilicki  Chevrolet 1'13.750 3.490 119.593
36 23 United States Spencer Gallagher  Toyota 1'13.809 3.549 119.498
37 00 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 1'14.934 4.674 117.704
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