Hamlin Speeds To Pole Position At Pepsi 500 Qualifying
San Bernardino County, Calif. (Oct. 9, 2009) – Denny Hamlin had the best Friday of his season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time during qualifying for the Inaugural Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race -- the Pepsi 500 at the Auto Club Speedway. Audrina Patridge of MTV’s “The Hills” will wave the Green Flag for the race Sunday at Noon PT.
Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) took the pole position with the top time of 183.870 mph around the two-mile oval, his first of the year. “It definitely comes at a good time,” Hamlin said. “You like to keep streaks alive, and one is to have a pole each year. Qualifying has just been so bad for us. It’s picked up in the last couple months, but for the most part, on Fridays, if we were 15th, we were happy.”
Added Hamlin, who earned his seventh career pole and his first since Richmond in 2008: “It was definitely a good run, a big pick-up for us. We definitely didn’t expect that after how poorly we practiced. The good part is when you’re that horrible in practice, you can throw anything at it. That’s what we did and just came up with a good setup.”
David Reutimann (No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota) finished second (183.108 mph) but was later moved to the 42nd position after NASCAR officials disallowed his time as the result of a post-qualifying infraction (exceeded gas levels in the rear shocks).
Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M/Scotch Blue Ford) had the third-fastest qualifying lap (182.704 mph) but was moved up to the front row following the announcement about Reutimann.
“It was a really good lap,” Biffle said. “I was actually surprised myself, really surprised, because we weren’t that good in practice. Right there at the end, we really were having a little bit of tough times getting it going, so the team really looked at what everyone else was doing and kind of reworked and really didn’t know what to expect.”
Three-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson (Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet, 182.635 mph) will start third, and points leader Mark Martin (Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet, 181.979 mph) will start ninth.
Juan Pablo Montoya (Target Chevrolet), third in points, qualified fifth (but moved next to Johnson in the fourth spot. He finished with an average speed of 182.315 mph, but damaged his car on his second qualifying lap after scraping the wall.
Rookie Joey Logano (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota) was the top rookie (182.223 mph, unofficial) to qualify on Friday.
In addition to world-class NASCAR racing, fans experiencing Auto Club Speedway can also take advantage of free parking, bring in their own food, or partake in the unbelievable menu items on site as well as other cost-savings opportunities while enjoying a full day of entertainment and fun at a fantastic family value.
To purchase tickets call 800-944-RACE (7223), or visit www.autoclubspeedway.com.