With a lap time of 22.788 seconds around Dover (Del.) International Speedway from behind the wheel of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on Friday, Denny Hamlin claimed the pole starting spot for Sunday's FedEx 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. It's his 15th-career pole, his third of the season, and the second of his career at Dover.
"We've been qualifying pretty good, which has really helped out our cause with our race finishes," Hamlin said. "Overall, I've been happy with everything. I feel like I've gained a lot of knowledge in how to qualify better. It's all helping out our cause for the moment."
Martin Truex Jr. posted a 22.814-second lap in his No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota to claim the second spot on the starting grid and start alongside his fellow-Toyota driver on the front row. Toyota claimed the top-four spots on the grid, with Hamlin's JGR teammates, Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota and Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 taking third and fourth.
"It was a good lap for us, for sure," Truex said. "You always want to come here and get the pole. I love this place so much and have so many fans in this area. Nonetheless, solid run for our NAPA Toyota. The guys did a really good job. We were off a little bit in practice, we were only 11th quickest and just couldn't quite hit on the balance and that was a definite improvement over what we had there. The track was hotter, it was slick and pretty dang hard to drive, but the guys did a pretty good job getting the balance right to where we had good speed and proud of them for that and now we can go work on Sunday."
The fastest non-Toyota was Ryan Newman's No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in fifth. The No. 2 Penske Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski was the fastest Ford, qualifying eighth.
Newman went out early in the qualifying session and claimed the provisional pole, for a time. Hamlin was the driver to eventually knock Newman from the provisional top spot and remained atop the scoring pylon for the remainder of the session.
“It was pretty good," Newman said of his lap. "I got just a little bit loose off of (turn) four because I was tight climbing the hill. A good run for our Haas Automation Chevrolet. The guys have done a good job the entire time in qualifying trim. We definitely want to see it pay off in qualifying."
Other drivers qualifying in the top-10 include the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Mark Martin in sixth, the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick in seventh, the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Joey Logano in ninth and the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray in 10th.
Forty-three cars, the exact number needed for a full race field, made qualifying laps, so all drivers who made a qualifying attempt received a spot on the starting grid.