Dover NASCAR: Denny Hamlin continues strong form with pole
|By Diego Mejia||Saturday, September 29th 2012, 21:01 GMT|
Denny Hamlin kept his momentum rolling from last weekend's victory at Loudon to claim pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase round at Dover.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver beat the previous benchmark set by Penske Racing's Sam Hornish Jr and his lap of 22.599 seconds stood unbeaten.
Michael Waltrip Racing duo Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr, fastest in Friday's opening practice, got closest but had to take second and third on the grid respectively.
"I didn't think it was a pole-winning lap when I ran it," said Hamlin. "That's why I ran a second lap, just to try to improve it.
"Definitely [crew chief] Darian [Grubb] is working out some magic and obviously our qualifying is working a lot better this year and that's one thing that we've definitely improved this year that's helped with our results.
"Starting from the pole is obviously going to be a huge advantage for us on Sunday."
Hornish ended up a surprising fourth as the best of those who are not contending for the title, followed by Hamlin's team-mate Kyle Busch, also out of the championship battle this year.
Right behind them the majority of title contenders lined up with Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle sixth as the fastest Ford ahead of Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon.
His team-mate Kasey Kahne and early Chase leader Brad Keselowski rounded out the top 10 ahead of seven-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson, who survived sideways moments on his first lap to then get 11th with his second one.
"I was happy to get that second lap in," said Johnson. "I knew it wasn't going to be as good as the first [lap].
"The first lap I was on the rev limiter down the back straightaway, so I know I busted [Turns] 1 and 2 well. But it takes a complete lap to get it done around here. It was still a respectable time."
Tony Stewart, who struggled at this track a year ago while fighting for the title, could only manage 24th on the grid ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr, the slowest qualifier among those in the Chase.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr, who will replace Matt Kenseth at Roush Fenway Racing next year, was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 17th, while David Stremme, Mike Bliss, Jason Leffler, Cole Whitt and Kelly Bires failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 22.599s 2. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 22.604s + 0.005s 3. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 22.613s + 0.014s 4. Sam Hornish Jr Penske Dodge 22.676s + 0.077s 5. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 22.689s + 0.090s 6. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 22.707s + 0.108s 7. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 22.721s + 0.122s 8. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 22.742s + 0.143s 9. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 22.748s + 0.149s 10. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 22.763s + 0.164s 11. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 22.772s + 0.173s 12. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 22.786s + 0.187s 13. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 22.789s + 0.190s 14. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 22.789s + 0.190s 15. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 22.792s + 0.193s 16. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 22.811s + 0.212s 17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 22.816s + 0.217s 18. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 22.835s + 0.236s 19. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 22.842s + 0.243s 20. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 22.936s + 0.337s 21. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 22.941s + 0.342s 22. Landon Cassill BK Toyota 22.955s + 0.356s 23. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 22.984s + 0.385s 24. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 22.989s + 0.390s 25. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 22.997s + 0.398s 26. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota 23.005s + 0.406s 27. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 23.033s + 0.434s 28. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet 23.043s + 0.444s 29. Reed Sorenson Humphrey Smith Chevrolet 23.044s + 0.445s 30. Casey Mears Germain Ford 23.050s + 0.451s 31. David Ragan Front Row Ford 23.074s + 0.475s 32. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 23.094s + 0.495s 33. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 23.120s + 0.521s 34. Scott Speed Leavine Ford 23.160s + 0.561s 35. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 23.169s + 0.570s 36. Scott Riggs R3 Chevrolet 23.188s + 0.589s 37. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 23.217s + 0.618s 38. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 23.222s + 0.623s 39. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 23.222s + 0.623s 40. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 23.279s + 0.680s 41. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet 23.293s + 0.694s 42. TJ Bell FAS Lane Ford 23.349s + 0.750s 43. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 23.424s + 0.825s Did not qualify: David Stremme Inception Toyota 23.262s + 0.663s Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 23.280s + 0.681s Jason Leffler Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 23.306s + 0.707s Cole Whitt Circle Sport Chevrolet 23.416s + 0.817s Kelly Bires Go Green Ford 23.425s + 0.826s