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Hamlin Blisters The Bricks In Qualifying At Indy

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 28 2012

Denny Hamlin will lead the field to green at the Brickyard 400 on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

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Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin won the pole for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 with a qualifying lap in 49.244 seconds (182.763 mph) on Saturday.

Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards, with new crew chief Chad Norris on the pit bow, qualified second at 181.984 mph.

Third was Joey Logano (181.756 mph), Hamlin’s teammate.

Aric Almirola (181.679 mph) will start fourth, followed by Greg Biffle (181.532 mph), as two Toyotas and three Fords comprised the top five, threatening to end Chevrolet’s nine-year dominance at the 2.5-mile speedway.

Hamlin said he likes his chances for Sunday.

“I think, if you put me out front on the last run, no one’s going to get around me,” Hamlin said. “So it’s all going to be about maintaining track position and maintaining the balance of your race car. I’ve been good here before and not been able to pass.

“There’s always been about two cars, in every single race here, that’s been capable of passing. Everyone else just kind of runs where they’re at. All you can do is hope that you’ve got a fast enough car to be one of those two, where, if you do get set back, you can be one of the cars that can get back to the front.

“One thing about it is having the No. 1 pit stall now (the inevitable choice of the pole winner). That’s going to be an advantage on pit road. I think it’s hard to point to the outfield right now, but we’ve got the bat halfway raised.”

Edwards, struggling to earn a berth in the rapidly approaching Chase, said, “That was a really good lap for us. I am just proud of everyone for coming together and working together. Everyone at the shop, Chad Norris, Bob Osborne, all the engineers and everyone here at the track who said, ‘Alright, lets put everything we can into this for the next seven weeks.’ I know this is just the first lap of our run toward the Chase but that is a good lap.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., second in the Cup standings, will start 20th, 10 spots behind Kenseth, the driver he is chasing for the series lead.

“We didn’t have a good race car in qualifying trim, and it showed today,” Earnhardt said. “But we have a good car in race trim, and we’ll race good.”

Michael McDowell, Reed Sorenson and Joe Nemechek failed to make the 43-car field. Nemechek had competed in 17 of 18 Cup races at the Brickyard, failing to qualify only in 2007. McDowell was fast enough to make the field on speed, but his time was disallowed after post-qualifying inspection because the nitrogen gas in the rear shocks exceeded the allowable pressure.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 28 2012
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