By AMANDA VINCENT
With a 22.483-second/160.121 mph lap around Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Friday in the third of three rounds of NASCAR Sprint Cup SEries qualifying, Denny Hamlin claimed the pole for Sunday’s FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks. It’s his first pole of 2015 but the third of his career at Dover.
Martin Truex Jr. will start next to Hamlin on the front row for Sunday’s race, while Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth share row two after posting the third and fourth-fastest laps in the final round of qualifying.
Hamlin was fast throughout the qualifying session, also posting the fastest lap in round two.
“We did a lot of testing here, and we didn’t change a whole lot on our cars,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin led a Joe Gibbs Racing qualifying effort that put all four of the organization’s entries through to the final round of qualifying and on to top-10 spots on the starting grid. As previously mentioned, Kenseth qualified fourth, joined by Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch in eighth and 10th.
Hendrick Motorsports, though, had opposite results on Friday, failing to put a single one of its four cars in the final round. Jimmie Johnson, after posting the fastest lap in practice earlier in the day, led the way for HMS in qualifying with a 14th-place effort. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 16th and Jeff Gordon 22nd. Kasey Kahne fell one spot shy of advancing to round two, winding up 25th.
“Missed it a little here in qualifying, but we’ll be just fine,” Johnson said.
Although being penalized by NASCAR for written warnings in two-consecutive race weekends, with the punishment being last pit selection, Johnson’s No. 48 team still got to pick its pit stall in the order in which it qualified, because the punishment is being appealed by the race team, deferring the penalty.
Other drivers getting to the final round and claiming top-12 starting spots for Sunday include Joey Logano in fifth, Kevin Harvick in sixth, Greg Biffle seventh, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ninth, Jamie McMurray 11th and Austin Dillon 12th.
Here is the complete starting grid for the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks:
Row 1: Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Chevrolet)
Row 2: Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 3: Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet)
Row 4: Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford), Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 5: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 6: Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 7: Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 8: David Ragan (No. 55 Toyota), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 9: Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 10: Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota)
Row 11: Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 12: Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Justin Allgaier (No. 51 Chevrolet)
Row 13: Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 14: Brian Scott (No. 33 Chevrolet), Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 9 Ford)
Row 15: A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Alex Bowman (No. 7 Chevrolet)
Row 16: Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), David Gilliland (No. 38 Ford)
Row 17: Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet), Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet)
Row 18: Jeb Burton (No. 26 Toyota), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota)
Row 19: Cole Whitt (No. 35 Ford), Brett Moffitt (No. 34 Ford)
Row 20: Josh Wise (No. 98 Ford), J.J. Yeley (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 21: Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Chevrolet), Mike Bliss (No. 32 Ford)
Row 22: Landon Cassill (No. 40 Chevrolet)
DNQ (did not qualify) — Travis Kvapil, Jeff Green
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