Denny Hamlin Takes the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Pole
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (March 23, 2012) - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) captured the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole on Friday and will start on the front row during Sunday’s 16th annual Auto Club 400 taking place at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
Hamlin’s top lap of 38.62 seconds, 186.40 mph, bested Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) and gave Hamlin his second pole in 12 races at Auto Club Speedway.
“This track and Las Vegas race are completely different, but we have speed this weekend,” Hamlin said. “We didn’t have any speed in Vegas. Whatever has happened in our shop over the last two weekends I don’t know, but we have found some speed here.”
He added: “This track surface here is one of the most temperature sensitive tracks we race at all year long. Any time the sun sets at this racetrack, I guess it’s the angle, the racing changes. When the sun is dead over in the middle of the day the track gets extremely slick and can magnify the speed for two miles. If you get five degrees of track temperature taken out then it’s a half a second. So we knew the track was going to be fast later in the day.”
Busch posted his second Top 10 start of 2012 and his eighth in 15 races at Auto Club Speedway.
“That qualifying run was pretty weird,” Busch said. “I’ve never qualified that high here before in running turn 1 and 2 in the third lane like that. Low and behold one of the only guys that runs the bottom line beats you. It was a really good run for us and our Interstate Batteries Camry to be able to qualify on the front row.”
Mark Martin (No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota) took third while Josh Wise (No. 26 MDS Ford) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
NASCAR Nationwide Series Qualifying will start at 10:35 a.m. on Saturday at Auto Club Speedway, followed by a live musical performance by The Tender Box at the DiscoverIE FanZone stage. The Royal Purple 300 NNS race will start at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN. Tickets starting as low as $30 can be purchased at www.autoclubspeedway.com.