Hamlin Leads Gibbs Contingent In IRWIN Tools Night Race Qualifying
Joe Gibbs Racing is showing no signs of cooling off.
On Friday, the team swept the top three spots in qualifying for Saturday's IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"Our FedEx Ground Camry obviously was very fast that last round and Dave (Rogers, crew chief) made the great adjustments to it to pick up the speed," said Hamlin, who also won the pole position for Friday's Food City 300 XFINITY Series race. "I think that hopefully we'll have something that we can race with them tomorrow night."
JGR has won the pole position in five of the past six races and Friday marked the second week in a row that the team has swept the top three starting spots. JGR driver Matt Kenseth won the pole position, and the race, last week at Michigan.
"Everybody has just been working their tails off and doing a great job," said Busch, who has four victories this summer. "We just tried some different things this year and it's kind of worked for us. Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with just everybody's effort and everybody's work and the communication with bringing on the fourth car with Carl Edwards and of course Matt Kenseth as well too. It's a JGR top-three there and Kenseth, he's won two of the last four here, so we definitely ain't no slouches around Bristol."
David Ragan will start fourth in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Joey Logano won the night race last year by holding off Brad Keselowski. The Team Penske teammates qualified fifth and sixth Friday.
Series points leader Kevin Harvick will start seventh. The race is scheduled to start at 7:45 p.m.
Kenseth, who won the Food City 500 in April to end a 51-race winless streak and become a four-time winner at Bristol, will start 13th in the No. 20 JGR Toyota.
"If the weather forecast is right, and it stays nice through race day, it's going to be a lot different than it was in the spring," he said. "We're going to have to be ready for that and set up for that."
Rain delayed the start of April's race and three times interrupted it. That doesn't appear to be a concern Saturday. The National Weather Service forecast for the area looks ideal with a high temperature in the lower 80s and no threat of rain.
It will be Jeff Gordon's final Cup Series race at Bristol as a full-time driver.
The four-time Cup Series champion qualified 24th in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet that is carrying a throwback rainbow paint scheme this weekend as he looks to join Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Cale Yarborough and the late Dale Earnhardt as the only drivers to win at least six times at Bristol.
Each of those legends has a section of seating named in their honor at Bristol. A few hours before qualifying, Gordon learned that one will be named after him. The Jeff Gordon Terrace - a section of backstretch seats with premium views - debuts in 2016.
"I go to different tracks, Bristol certainly being one of the highlights, and you see a driver's name on a grandstand and you only hope that one day that you've maybe done something significant enough to earn that," Gordon said. "You just did that for me here today. It means the world to me."
Already a sight to behold, the night race will sport an even more dramatic look Saturday. The track is encouraging fans to wear their favorite NASCAR driver's T-shirt in black. Chevrolet is hoping to maximize the effect. Fans who do not have a black t-shirt can visit the Team Chevy display in the fan midway area and sign up to receive a complimentary black T-shirt.