Denny Hamlin on the pole for Southern 500

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              Kevin Harvick leads during early stages of a NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
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DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) — Denny Hamlin will look to end a yearlong drought in NASCAR’s top series when he starts on the pole for the Southern 500.

Hamlin has not won since taking the checkered flag at Darlington Raceway a year ago. He showed his Darlington touch might be back when he turned the fastest lap in qualifying, and then finished fourth in the Xfinity race Saturday.

Hamlin is on the verge of clinching one of the four remaining spots in NASCAR’s playoffs. He needs eight points to lock up his 12th playoff berth in 13 seasons.

Kyle Larson starts second Sunday night and last year’s Cup series champion Martin Truex Jr. is third. Current points leader Kyle Busch qualified fifth while series wins leader Kevin Harvick will start 22nd.