“We’ve been working hard on getting our cars better,” Denny Hamlin said at the end of qualifying at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Saturday for Sunday’s AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track.
Apparently, Hamlin’s No. 11 team has gotten the car better, as if it needed to be any better. Hamlin followed up his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon last weekend — his fifth win of the season — with the pole starting spot at Dover after making a qualifying lap around the track in 22.599 seconds.
“This is a good offensive statement,” Hamlin said.
When the field takes the green flag on Sunday afternoon, Hamlin will be joined on the front row by Clint Bowyer to give Toyota a sweep of the front row starting spots.
As a matter-of-fact, Toyota drivers took four of the top-five spots on the starting grid, with Bowyer’s Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. taking third, and Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch claiming fifth.
“If we’d had a better first one (lap), we’d probably be at the top,” Busch said, unhappy with how he started his qualifying run.
Penske Racing Dodge driver Sam Hornish Jr. was the only non-Toyota driver to claim a top-five starting spot, taking fourth.
Hornish occupied the provisional pole spot for awhile during the qualifying session, as several drivers who went out after him came close to knocking him from the top spot but fell just short.
Hamlin was finally able to displace Hornish from the provisional pole. The MWR duo of Bowyer and Truex were the final two cars to make qualifying attemps. While neither were able to take the pole, they did manage top-five starting spots.
Starting sixth through 10th on Sunday will be Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski.
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