By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
LEBANON, Tenn. (AP) — Denny Hamlin was awarded the pole at Nashville Superspeedway when a surprise rain shower washed out the second round of Saturday qualifying.
The session was halted right before the fastest 10 drivers were set for the shootout to determine who will lead the field to green Sunday. It will be Hamlin in his No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing on the front row next to Joey Logano in the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske.
Gibbs and Penske are two of the elite Cup organizations who have struggled some this year with the introduction of the new Next Gen stock car. The car has been an equalizer that has allowed smaller teams to compete — for example, both Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain of Trackhouse Racing advanced to the second round ahead of the rain.
The top 10 consisted of three Toyota drivers, three Ford drivers and four Chevrolet drivers. From the Chevy camp, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott locked up third and fourth. Larson is the defending race winner and reigning Cup champion.
Suárez, who earned the first Cup win of his career at Sonoma this month, will start fifth. Ryan Blaney of Penske is sixth, followed by Chastain.
Kevin Harvick had a surprisingly strong run in the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing to land eighth, followed by JGR teammates Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr., who announced he’s returning to the team next year.
Bubba Wallace was fastest in Friday practice but briefly wiggled during his qualifying lap and will start 30th. Kyle Busch had the worst day of the four Gibbs drivers: Busch spun on his lap and hit the wall, and he’ll start at the back of the field Sunday.
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