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Denny Hamlin wins pole for Sunday’s Southern 500

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 Practice

DARLINGTON, SC - AUGUST 31: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Throwback Toyota, drives during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on August 31, 2018 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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DARLINGTON, S.C. - Defending Southern 500 winner Denny Hamlin will start Sunday’s race from the pole after posting a lap of 173.571 mph.

It is Hamlin’s 29th career pole and his third of the season.

Kyle Larson will start second after a lap of 173.411 mph. It is his best starting spot for this race. He was followed by Martin Truex Jr. (173.204 mph), Alex Bowman (173.155) and Kyle Busch (173.064).

Truex scores consecutive top-five starts at Darlington. Bowman had not qualified better than 34th at this track before Saturday. Busch will make his seventh consecutive top-10 start at this track.

After qualifying, Truex was asked if he had any more news on his status beyond this season. His contract expires after this year.

“I’ve got no news,” Truex said.

Kevin Harvick qualified 22nd. Crew chief Rodney Childers said the right front tire lost air and that impacted the car’s handling.

Jeffrey Earnhardt spun off Turn 2 and slid down the backstretch before impacting the inside wall in the opening round.

Click here for starting lineup