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Hamlin puts Toyota on pole in Richmond

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Friday, May 02, 2008

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Virginia-native Denny Hamlin celebrates winning the Coors Light Pole for the Crown Royal Presents The Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond International Raceway. It is Hamlin's sixth career pole and second at his home track.
Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Not by coincidence of course to try and sell the unsold seats, Denny Hamlin, at his home track, won the pole Friday night for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond International Raceway (RIR).

The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver turned a lap of 21.395 seconds (126.198 mph) on the .75-mile speedway.

It was Hamlin's first pole of the season, second pole at RIR and sixth of his Sprint Cup career.

"Richmond, I mean, that is in the woods of my hometown right there, 15 minutes away," said Hamlin. "And so, yeah, I'm going to have a lot of friends and family out there. So everyone knows that this is my Indy."

Joining Hamlin on the front row will be veteran Mark Martin, who posted a time of 21.423 seconds in his DEI Chevrolet.

Martin Truex Jr. (21.456) and rookie Patrick Carpentier (21.458) will start in row two.

Reed Sorenson rounded out the top five.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch, Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman completed the first ten qualifiers.

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position:  1st

What happened on your first qualifying lap?
“I just aborted turn three when I realized the first lap wasn’t all that good to make sure that I was going to have a good run coming to the white (flag).  What a great run by this whole FedEx Express Toyota team.  With the wind blowing, I am a little worried that the pavement might cool off faster than it usually would.  We’re definitely happy starting in the top-three tomorrow if that’s where we end up.”

How does it feel to win the pole at your home track?
“It feels really good and it’s a good start to the weekend -- that’s for sure.  A pole at Richmond equals a race win anywhere else I go -- it’s a great accomplishment for our race team and it’s the next closest thing to a win here.  We just have to finish the deal off on Saturday night.”

Does getting the pole help you to relax more for the rest of the weekend?
“What’s good about it is that we are able to perform under pressure.  I knew I had pressure because my heart was beating out of my chest during my lap.  When your foot is sitting there shaking on the gas pedal, the nerves are starting to get to you.  I don’t know why -- it’s just a starting position for us.  It’s something special around this race track, you just feel at home and when you perform well it definitely gives you that extra boost of confidence going into the weekend that you were able to get it done.”

You won the last short track race of the season at Martinsville, how prepared does that make you for tomorrow?
“Good, because a lot of the similarities to this track are similar to Phoenix and a little bit of Martinsville.  I think that’s why you see guys like Mark (Martin) perform so well because he was good at Phoenix.  I think you’ll see some of the same players up there so we expected to run well and it gives us a big boost of confidence.  I am particularly better on the short tracks than I am on the bigger tracks.  We know when we come here that we always have a shot.”

What do you learn from these last trips here that will help you tomorrow night?
“It’s tough to say that I’ve learned anything, but it’s just making sure that we capitalize at the right time.  We’ve led laps here, but it’s all been in the middle stages of the race and towards the end we weren’t able to capitalize or have a bad pit stop.  You have to put yourself in the top two to three positions with about 75 laps to go.  That’s the only way I feel, chance wise, you’re going to have a chance to win this race because it is so hard to pass.”

How much did the track change from practice to qualifying?
“The biggest thing was the track temperature went down around 15 degrees, which is really good as far as grip.  I got to run out there in the Nationwide Series qualifying and I noticed that the track had probably 50 percent more grip than it had in practice.  It seemed like we picked up that much more during Cup qualifying.  This track is very weather-sensitive.  When it gets hot and sunny, it really starts to take it’s toll on the rear tires and it gets really slick.  These conditions were really optimum.”

Lineup

POS

CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 126.198 21.395 Leader
2 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 126.033 21.423 -0.028
3 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 125.839 21.456 -0.061
4 10 Patrick Carpentier* Dodge LifeLock 125.827 21.458 -0.063
5 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 125.722 21.476 -0.081
6 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 125.587 21.499 -0.104
7 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Pedigree 125.494 21.515 -0.120
8 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Stanley Tools 125.488 21.516 -0.121
9 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 125.441 21.524 -0.129
10 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Alltel 125.348 21.540 -0.145
11 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 125.238 21.559 -0.164
12 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 125.191 21.567 -0.172
13 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance 125.168 21.571 -0.176
14 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 125.133 21.577 -0.182
15 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 125.127 21.578 -0.183
16 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 125.110 21.581 -0.186
17 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 125.058 21.590 -0.195
18 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 125.040 21.593 -0.198
19 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 124.988 21.602 -0.207
20 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 124.936 21.611 -0.216
21 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 124.890 21.619 -0.224
22 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / AMP Energy 124.792 21.636 -0.241
23 16 Greg Biffle Ford DISH Network / DishDVRs 124.734 21.646 -0.251
24 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT NANO Technology 124.671 21.657 -0.262
25 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Moen / Menards 124.631 21.664 -0.269
26 01 Regan Smith* Chevrolet Steak-umm Burgers 124.602 21.669 -0.274
27 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 124.573 21.674 -0.279
28 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 124.470 21.692 -0.297
29 00 Michael McDowell* Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 124.435 21.698 -0.303
30 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet Haas Automation 124.327 21.717 -0.322
31 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 124.321 21.718 -0.323
32 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 124.258 21.729 -0.334
33 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 124.241 21.732 -0.337
34 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Discount Tire 124.229 21.734 -0.339
35 77 Sam Hornish Jr.* Dodge Mobil 1 124.138 21.750 -0.355
36 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row/ DenverMattress.com 124.012 21.772 -0.377
37 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Haas Automation 124.001 21.774 -0.379
38 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Charter Comm. 123.882 21.795 -0.400
39 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Speed Racer / Cheerios 123.876 21.796 -0.401
40 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com 123.785 21.812 -0.417
41 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 123.598 21.845 -0.450
42 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Paralyzed Veterans of America 123.592 21.846 -0.451
43 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 123.446 21.872 -0.477
Did Not Qualify
44 40 Ken Schrader Dodge Kennametal 123.344 21.890 -0.495
45 33 Scott Wimmer Chevrolet Camping World/ RVs.com 123.316 21.895 -0.500
46 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Long John Silver's 123.254 21.906 -0.511
47 21 Jon Wood Ford U.S. Air Force 121.578 22.208 -0.813

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