DARLINGTON, S.C. – Denny Hamlin is at it again at Darlington Raceway.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who swept both the Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races here a year ago, got off to a strong start by winning the pole for the Southern 500. It's the first time Hamlin's won the pole here, but far from the first time he's been on top.
Hamlin won his first Southern 500 in 2010. He's finished in the top 10 in 10 of his 12 Cup starts at Darlington. Hamlin's been even more dominant in Darlington's Xfinity races, with five victories in his last eight starts.
In qualifying, Hamlin posted a fast lap of 173.571 mph to win his first Southern 500 pole, his third pole of the season and 29th of his NASCAR Cup career.
“We've done a great job with the car all weekend,” Hamlin said. “Pretty optimistic that we can continue to build momentum over the next two weeks.”
Kyle Larson will start today alongside Hamlin with Martin Truex Jr. third.
Alex Bowman, on NASCAR's playoff bubble for the 16th and final playoff spot, is fourth with the racer right behind seeking the final berth, Ryan Newman, starting sixth. Series points leader Kyle Busch is fifth.
“Disappointed that we didn't get the pole,” Larson said. “But it's good to qualify good here. It's a tough race tomorrow. If we can keep our track position and keep it out of the wall we should have a good shot.”
Keselowski wins at Darlington
Brad Keselowski won his first race at Darlington in a very Darlington way. Keselowski came out on top in the Xfinity race here after leaders Ross Chastain and Kevin Harvick wrecked 37 laps from the end in an incident where the 2014 NASCAR champion drove into Chastain's pit stall to complain and then pointedly said his 25-year-old colleague was too inexperienced and reckless to drive at this level.
Lakers buy out Deng contract
The Lakers and Luol Deng are finally free from each other, according to the Los Angeles Times. Deng's agent and the team reached an agreement for a buyout under the waive and stretch provision. That allows a team to renegotiate the structure of a player's salary, waive the player, and then spread his salary over several years to create more cap space.
Tech to compete in Esports meet
The Indiana Tech University Esports team, along with more than 30 other colleges from across the country, will go to Harrisburg University Sept. 21 to 22 to compete in the largest collegiate esports tournament to date. Thirty-two of the nation's best squads will compete in League of Legends and Overwatch for a piece of the $50,000 prize pool.
On the course
Joe Durant eagled the par-5 18th for a 7-under 63 and a one-stroke lead over Miguel Angel Jimenez in the PGA Tour Champion's Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary, Alberta. Durant birdied the first four holes on the back nine and bogeyed the par-4 15th before pulling ahead with the closing eagle. ...
Georgia Hall pulled away from Minjee Lee late in the third round to take a two-stroke lead in the Cambia Portland Classic in Portland, Oregon. Hall shot a 3-under 69. She birdied the par-3 16th and par-4 17th and made a 6-foot par save on the par-4 18th at tree-lined Columbia Edgewater. ...
NCAA champion Jennifer Kupcho and two-time U.S. Women's Amateur champion Kristen Gillman finished strong to lead the United States to a 10-shot victory in the Women's World Amateur Teach Championship. The Americans won the Espirito Santo Trophy for the 14th time. Their last win was in 1998.