Hamlin – And Grubb – Win Pole For Dover Race
Credit crew chief Darian Grubb for Denny Hamlin being able to win the pole on Saturday for Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Hamlin sure did.
Hamlin covered the Monster Mile in 22.599 seconds (159.299 mph) in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to claim his third pole of the season and the 12th of his career. Hamlin was .005 seconds faster than Michael Waltrip Racing’s Clint Bowyer, who circled the high-banked concrete track at 159.264 mph.
Bowyer’s teammate, Martin Truex Jr. (159.200 mph) qualified third as Chase drivers in Toyotas swept the top three spots. Sam Hornish Jr. (158.758 mph) claimed the fourth starting spot, followed by Kyle Busch (158.667 mph).
Hamlin, who has a career average starting position of 14.8 at Dover, and a career average finish of 20.5, overcame his Dover-phobia, but later said the driver was only a quarter of the equation.
“I think probably 75 percent was the car and 25 percent the driver, in that sense,” said Hamlin, who won last Sunday’s Chase race at New Hampshire in dominating fashion. “I think there’s a lot of drivers out there who could be able to do what I do with the cars that Darian has been giving me these last few weeks.
“So I’m going to give him pretty much all the credit and ride his back as long as it’ll hold me.”
Nevertheless, Hamlin managed to improve his performance dramatically at a track that simply doesn’t mesh with his driving style.
“I typically don’t run as strong on corner entry and use less brake,” Hamlin said. “It’s my M.O., my driving style at a lot of race tracks. Here, it just really rewards driving in hard, using brake and just matting it on exit. I’m typically better at throttle management on exit.
“I just think, for whatever, reason, between that and the concrete that I don’t have that good of a feel for, I just think it’s tough for me to change the way I’ve been driving for 20-some years when I come to this track. I’ve broken down a lot of film over these last few days, obviously to try to get better at it. That’s the only way you can continue to stay on top in this sport is to continue to evolve.”
Chase drivers Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon qualified sixth and seventh, respectively. The other seven Chase drivers will start as follows: Kasey Kahne, ninth; Brad Keselowski, 10th; points leader Jimmie Johnson, 11th; Matt Kenseth, 12th; Kevin Harvick, 13th; Tony Stewart, 24th; and Dale Earnhardt Jr., 25th.
David Stremme, Mike Bliss, Jason Leffler, Cole Whitt and Kelly Bires failed to make the 43-car field.No Comment