Hamlin qualifies first at Bristol

Aug. 23, 2013 at 8:20 PM

BRISTOL, Tenn., Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Denny Hamlin, battling back from a serious injury suffered in March, won the pole Friday for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Hamlin, who won this event a year ago, turned a lap at the high-banked, half-mile oval in 128.969 miles per hour. It was his fourth pole of the season and the 16th of his Sprint Cup career.

He is 25th in the point standings, having struggled since a back injury he suffered in Fontana, Calif. He has not missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship since his rookie season of 2006.

Kurt Busch, a five-time winner at Bristol, qualified second with a speed of 128.770 mph. He was followed by Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers and Matt Kenseth. Kyle Busch wrecked during his qualifying lap and will start from the back of the 43-car field.

Points leader Jimmie Johnson qualified 13th. Mark Martin, in his first race as the substitute driver for injured Tony Stewart, was 11th fastest.

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