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Hamlin wins pole at Martinsville; Johnson second

Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:08:25 PM EST
Updated On: Oct 25 2013 08:21:35 PM EDT

Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth joke as they prepare for the Chase Race in Martinsville.

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) -- -

Denny Hamlin won the pole position Friday for the NASCAR race at Martinsville Speedway.

Hamlin led the way as 18 drivers broke Jimmie Johnson's track qualifying record with a speed of 99.595 mph. Johnson, the points leader who set the mark in April, and Kyle Busch tied for second at 99.344 mph, with Johnson getting the second spot Sunday based on the owner points tiebreaker.

“I knew we were going to be pretty strong. I knew we had a good shot at the pole,” said Hamlin, a Virginia native who has four Martinsville Speedway victories. “We are also pretty good in race trim. Normally when we qualify good, we’re good on Sunday.

Matt Kenseth, a teammate of Hamlin and Busch who trails Johnson by just four points in the championship battle with four races left, will start fourth, meaning the five-time series champion and Hendrick Motorsports star will be surrounded by teammates from Joe Gibbs Racing at the green flag on Sunday.

The pole is the 17th of Hamlin's career and his career-best fifth this season.