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Denny Hamlin wins pole for Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

Denny Hamlin claimed his first pole award of the season Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Hamlin posted a lap at 183.680 mph, his 29.399-second lap just .003 seconds better than Kurt Busch, who drives the No. 45 car for the Hamlin-owned 23XI Racing. Busch’s average speed was 183.661 mph.

Christopher Bell, Hamlin’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, qualified third at 183.655 mph. Kyle Busch was fourth at 183.505 mph while William Byron rounded out the top five at 182.927 mph.

MORE: Charlotte Cup starting lineup

Toyota locked five of its six cars into the top 10 starting positions for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) with Bubba Wallace qualifying seventh (182.291 mph). The exception was Martin Truex Jr., who will roll off from the 14th starting spot.

Practice on Saturday began with a hard spin and crash in Turn 2 for Corey LaJoie. The No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet cut a left rear tire in the center of Turns 1 and 2, sending the vehicle driver-side first into the SAFER barrier on the outer perimeter of the track during the Group A session.

Left rear tire failures became a trend two weeks ago at Kansas Speedway, another 1.5-mile track that utilized the same right side tire compound used at Charlotte. LaJoie was checked and released from the infield care center.

“There’s a lot of juice there to be had in terms of speed,” LaJoie told FS1 in reference to the left rear tire. “Guys were working on it and you see a lot of left rears down. I don’t know. I don’t know if we pushed it a little too hard but it hurt a lot more than what it looks like on camera, I can assure you that.”

Shortly after LaJoie’s spin, Kyle Larson contacted the outside wall in a similar spot with his No. 5 Chevrolet. Larson, the defending winner of the Coca-Cola 600, had posted the fastest lap in practice but did not post a qualifying lap as his team repaired the right side of his car.

Ryan Preece, driving the No. 15 Ford this week for Rick Ware Racing, spun during the Group B practice session. Brad Keselowski spun exiting Turn 4 during his qualifying attempt. Neither driver contacted the wall.