UPDATED: Denny Hamlin smashes Martinsville track records, promises a win Sunday

0 Comments

To say Denny Hamlin wanted to prove he’s okay after missing last Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Fontana due to a piece of metal in his eye is putting it mildly.

In his first time in a race car since last Saturday’s final practice at Auto Club Speedway, only to miss the actual race itself due to the eye issue, Hamlin shattered both ends of the Martinsville track record during Friday afternoon’s pre-qualifying practice session.

Hamlin recorded a one-lap burst of 100.021 mph at 18.932 seconds, both firsts around the .526-mile bullring — the first time over 100 mph and the first time under 19 seconds.

After practice, Hamlin made it very clear what he plans on doing Saturday.

“I’m going to win it this weekend, I promise,” he said.

Hamlin broke the old track mark — which he also owned — of 19.013 seconds (99.595 mph), set in last fall’s qualifying session.

“It wasn’t a goal to go out there and be first in practice,” Hamlin said afterward. “We didn’t set out to — of course that’s a goal for everyone, but it’s not something that we put extra effort on, especially practice.  It obviously shows that we’re very capable of winning the race this weekend and I’m pretty sure we will.”

While an outstanding effort, it’s not completely surprising as Hamlin is a four-time winner in his career at Martinsville. And what better way for him to totally put last Sunday’s controversy behind him than to win No. 5 this coming Sunday, right?

Second fastest was Hamlin’s former teammate, Joey Logano (99.313 mph), followed by Matt Kenseth (99.173), Clint Bowyer (99.147) and Tony Stewart (99.126).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Jimmie Johnson (99.100), Marcos Ambrose (98.981), Kyle Busch (98.903), Paul Menard (98.784) and Brian Vickers (98.687).

Hamlin completed just 30 laps, a lot fewer total laps than most of the 43 other drivers that took part in Friday’s practice.

Paul Menard and Brad Keselowski had the most at 67 laps apiece. Richard Childress Racing Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon logged 59 laps, while eight-time winner Jimmie Johnson made 57 revolutions.

The slowest driver in the session was Michael Annett, whose best single lap was only 94.784 mph (19.978 seconds).

Here’s the full list of driver speeds in Friday’s solo pre-qualifying practice session at Martinsville Speedway:

1 Denny Hamlin 100.021 mph

2 Joey Logano 99.313

3 Matt Kenseth 99.173

4 Clint Bowyer 99.147

5 Tony Stewart 99.126
6 Jimmie Johnson 991.100

7 Marcos Ambros 98.981

8 Kyle Bsch 98.903

9 Paul Menard 98.784

10 Brian Vickers 98.687

 

11 Ryan Newman 98.671

12 Jeff Gordon 98.615

13 Jamie McMurray 98.599

14 Casey Mears 98.579

15 Carl Edwards 98.400

 

16 Kurt Busch 98.374

17 Justin Allgaier 98.328

18 AJ Allmendinger 98.318

19 Kevin Harvick 98.216

20 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 98.170

 

21 Aric Almirola 98.145

22 Greg Biffle 98.109

23 Brad Keselowski 98.023

24 Kyle Larson 97.962

25 David Reutimann 97.901

 

26 David Gilliland 97.876

27 Kasey Kahne 97.871

28 Martin Truex Jr. 97.850

29 Danica Patrick 97.835

30 Michael McDowell 97.689

 

31 David Ragan 97.674

32 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 97.623

33 David Stremme 97.568

34 Austin Dillon 97.528

35 Landon Cassill 97.518

 

36 Josh Wise 97.192

37 Ryan Truex 97.018

38 Travis Kvapil 96.968

39 Reed Sorenson 96.815

40 Alex Bowman 96.711

 

41 Cole Whitt 96.332

42 Parker Kligerman 96.234

43 Joe Nemechek 95.961

44 Michael Annett 94.784

Follow me @JerryBonkowski