Hamlin To Start From Pole At Auto Club Speedway
Denny Hamlin won his first pole of the season Friday when he laid down the fastest lap in qualifying at Auto Club Speedway, site of Sunday’s Pepsi 500 Sprint Cup race.
Hamlin, a two-time winner this year and a participant in the Chase, had a lap of 183.870 mph and 39.16 seconds.
“It definitely comes at a good time,” Hamlin said. “You like to keep streaks alive, and one is to have a pole each year. Qualifying has just been so bad for us. It’s picked up in the last couple months, but for the most part, on Fridays, if we were 15th, we were happy.”
Second fastest in qualifying was David Reutimann, a non-Chaser. However, Reutimann, who drives for Michael Waltrip Racing, will be sent to the rear of the starting field because of a technical violation.
The shocks in his car were found to be out of spec.
Greg Biffle will start second and Jimmie Johnson was third.
“Hamlin put down one heck of a lap,” Johnson said.
“Hard for me not to be happy about that,” Hamlin said. “Missed (turns) Three and Four a little bit, but overall happy with our FedEx Ground car. We definitely gained a lot of grip from what we had – we gained it in the race car. I was just on the track 10 minutes ago and it was slick – the track was extremely slick. So, I think we just made our race car a little bit better right there.”
Juan Pablo Montoya, who was fastest in practice Friday, was fourth in qualifying. His fast lap came despite scrubbing the wall.
“I was just too loose on the power out of four,” Montoya said. “It was like loose loose, loose! I gave it a little more thinking it could take it and it just got too far out. Hey, it is one lap. I just ran out of talent I guess.”
Chase points-leader Mark Martin will start ninth.
Hamlin is sixth in points heading into Sunday’s race, which is the fourth of the 10-race Chase. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver trails Martin by 99 points.No Comment