Martinsville, Virginia:Denny Hamlin bounced back from a difficult 14th-place run at Bristol last week by winning the pole for the Goody's Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Friday.
Hamlin, who was left with a pounding headache and feeling sick by a combination of carbon monoxide and hot temperatures on Sunday, put his Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet Impala on the point in the second straight Car of Tomorrow race.
Hamlin's lap of 19.911 seconds on the 846-meter (.526-mile) oval knocked Jeff Gordon off the top spot early in the qualifying session on NASCAR's smallest, tightest track, and Jamie McMurray later knocked him out off the front row with a lap of 19.942.
Gordon, the series points leader and a seven-time winner at Martinsville, was seeking his seventh career pole here, but settled for the inside of the second row.
One week after Gibbs put two drivers in the top 10 in qualifying, the owners' three cars all qualified in the top seven with J.J. Yeley fifth and Tony Stewart seventh. Hamlin said it appears that two years of COT research is paying dividends.
"We are one of the better teams right now, and that edge is going to slowly go away in time," he said. "We're just going to try to ride it as long as we can."
The pole is the fifth of Hamlin's career and first this year.