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Denny Hamlin secures pole position for Busch Light Clash

Denny Hamlin won the pole position for Saturday night’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, topping NASCAR Cup Series qualifying.

Denny Hamlin won the pole position for Saturday night’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, topping the leaderboard in NASCAR Cup Series qualifying.

Hamlin posted a track-record lap of 68.498 mph on the temporary quarter-mile asphalt oval at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, putting his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the first starting spot for the 150-lap main event (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Joey Logano will share the front row for the feature after registering the second-fastest lap (67.925 mph) in group qualifying in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford.

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The starting lineup for the 23-car field was determined by a revised time-trials format after a gloomy forecast for severe weather forced NASCAR officials to move the event from a Sunday evening start to Saturday night. The rescheduling prompted officials to shuffle Saturday’s schedule, eliminating qualifying heats and a last-chance qualifying race. Instead, 22 starting berths were decided by the fastest speeds in four-minute sessions for six groups of six cars each.

Ty Gibbs was third-fastest in qualifying with Alex Bowman fourth and Kyle Busch rounding out the top five starters. The 23rd and final starting berth went to defending Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney, who took a provisional spot as the highest-ranked driver in the 2023 standings not otherwise qualified.

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Austin Cindric forced the only caution period of practice with a solo spin in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford as he exited Turn 2 in the second session. He did not make the cut for the 23-car field, and was joined on the sidelines by Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher, Erik Jones and Daniel Suárez among the 13 drivers who did not qualify. Chase Briscoe claimed the last starting spot based on speed.

Saturday night’s event marks the third consecutive year that the non-points race has been held inside the historic Los Angeles venue. The official Cup Series kickoff begins with the first points-paying race of the year, the 66th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

This story will be updated.