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Denny Hamlin, Ty Gibbs Sweep Front Row at Phoenix for Joe Gibbs Racing

Photo Credit: John K Harrelson, LAT Images, Courtesy of Toyota Racing

It’s been a half-decade since Denny Hamlin has scored a NASCAR Cup Series pole position on a track measuring one mile or less in length, but Saturday at Phoenix Raceway, he and Joe Gibbs Racing brought the heat.

Putting down a pair of strong laps in qualifying on Saturday, Hamlin was the fastest driver overall in both rounds, leaving him to score his 41st career pole with a blazing lap of 27.138 seconds (132.655mph).

More than a tenth of a second behind Hamlin in the second round of qualifying was 21-year-old teammate Ty Gibbs, securing his second-ever front-row start in the NASCAR Cup Series driving the No. 54 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

His first career top-two qualifying effort came last Fall at Martinsville Speedway, five NASCAR Cup Series races ago, which served as the last time Joe Gibbs Racing swept the front row at NASCAR’s top-level – with Martin Truex, Jr. and the aforementioned grandson of Joe Gibbs.

Chase Elliott, the most popular driver at NASCAR’s top level, picked up his first top-three starting spot on an oval since the end of the 2022 season, qualifying third in the No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

Erik Jones, driving for the newly Toyota-supported LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, was fourth-quickest in qualifying, while 2024 Daytona 500 winner William Byron rounded out the top-five, after a major struggle in Friday’s practice.

Tyler Reddick was sixth, with Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Noah Gragson and Chase Briscoe posting the seventh and eighth-best times in the final round of qualifying. Michael McDowell and Carson Hocevar completed the top-10.

RELATED: NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying Results from Phoenix

Earning a 10th-place starting spot for Sunday’s event at Phoenix, Carson Hocevar recorded his best-ever qualifying result in the NASCAR Cup Series, besting last week’s 14th-place qualifying effort for the Spire Motorsports driver.

With much skepticism surrounding the performance of NASCAR’s new short track package in traffic, the drivers that failed to advance to the final round of qualifying are likely frustrated with their qualifying result.

Martin Truex, Jr. (Group B) and Ross Chastain (Group A) will share the sixth row to start Sunday’s 312-lap contest at Phoenix Raceway, after being the first driver outside of the top five in their respective groups.

Other notable drivers to qualify outside the top-10 for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event include Christopher Bell (13th), Chris Buescher (14th), Daniel Suarez (15th), Ryan Blaney (16th), Kyle Larson (17th), Brad Keselowski (18th), Joey Logano (23rd), Alex Bowman (25th), and Kyle Busch (31st).

Logano, who managed to collect three consecutive front row starts to begin the 2024 campaign, was not able to keep up that same pace in Saturday’s session, qualifying 23rd.

Despite showing solid pace in Friday’s extended practice, with Logano leading the 36-driver field, none of the four drivers in the Team Penske network were able to qualify inside the top-15, the best of which being defending champion Ryan Blaney in 16th.

RELATED: NASCAR Cup Series Practice Results from Phoenix

Corey LaJoie, who ranked inside the top-20 in practice on Friday, struggled immensely on his qualifying run Saturday, having to make major saves on both ends of the one-mile oval, clocking in two-tenths of a second slower than 34th-place driver Austin Cindric.

Josh Berry, a contender for Rookie of The Year (ROTY) honors, will be starting Sunday’s Shriners Children’s 500 at the tail-end of the field, after the Stewart-Haas Racing driver crashed in qualifying.

Berry and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team will not be switching to a backup car for Sunday’s event, but will be taking pieces off the extra car to make the necessary repairs.

The 2024 Shriners Children’s 500 at Phoenix Raceway, the fourth NASCAR Cup Series event of the season, will be taking place on Sunday, March 10 at 3:30 PM ET on FOX.

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