RICHMOND, Va. – Denny Hamlin still gets nervous, even during qualifying, at Richmond International Raceway.
"What's good about it, I learn here how to perform under pressure. I know there was pressure because my heart was beating out of my chest during my lap," said Hamlin, who won the pole Friday for Saturday night's Dan Lowry 400.
"I don't know why, it's just a starting position for us. It's just something special about this race track."
Hamlin grew up in nearby Chesterfield, Va., and drove Late Models at Southside Speedway, about 20 miles south of RIR. He has finished no worse than 15th in his four previous Cup starts at the track, with three finishes of sixth or better.
"When you perform well it definitely gives you an extra boost of confidence going into the weekend that you'll be able to get it done," Hamlin said. The pole is the sixth of Hamlin's career and second at Richmond.
Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, have won three of the nine races this season and two of the past four. Hamlin's previous victory came in March at Martinsville, Va., like Richmond, a short track.
"We expected to run well here. I'm particularly better on the short tracks than I am on the bigger tracks and we when we come here we always have a shot," Hamlin said.
Hamlin held off a strong challenge from Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr., teammates at Dale Earnhardt Inc., for the top starting position.
Rookie Patrick Carpentier and Reed Sorenson completed the top five.
Series points leader Jeff Burton will line up 33rd.