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Denny Hamlin wins Dover pole

Monster Cup
Saturday, October 5, 2019

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Denny Hamlin
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

It was a friendly golf wager made good on the race track. Denny Hamlin began marking his 500th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race start this weekend with a record pole-winning speed Saturday afternoon at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. 

And Hamlin earned his – and Toyota's - second pole of the season by a mere 0.003-seconds over the very guy he made that all-in-fun wager with – Kyle Larson. 

"I got him, I got him,'' Hamlin said smiling after qualifying for Sunday's Drydene 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "I'm so happy I beat him. To have that lap there was a really good lap for us. I knew when we ran it, it was really solid.'' 

Extremely solid. Hamlin's lap of 166.984 mph (21.559-seconds) in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was more than a second faster than the previous Dover qualifying record (165.960 mph/21.692-seconds) set by Chase Elliott in May.  Hamlin, Larson and third place qualifier Martin Truex Jr. all broke the track record Saturday afternoon. 

It is Hamlin's fourth pole at the Dover one-miler – the most at any one-mile track for him. The last time Hamlin won a pole position was at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August – and he went on to win the race. Hamlin has never won at Dover, but was runner-up to Elliott in this race last year – one of four Top-5 runs at the track. 

"This is probably as optimistic as I've ever been going into a Dover race simply because we've really devoted a lot of time to improving my technique around here,'' said Hamlin, adding, "It just seems like in practice I'm really comfortable in the car and that's not my usual MO here.'' 

This is the first of three races that make up Round 2 in the Monster Energy Cup Series Playoffs. And all 12 of the drivers still championship-eligible qualified among the Top-18. 

Just behind Hamlin, Larson and Truex are fellow Playoff drivers Kevin Harvick, defending race winner Elliott and first-time Playoff competitor William Byron in positions four-five-six on the starting grid.  

Ryan Blaney (10th), Alex Bowman (12th), Joey Logano (14th) are the next best Playoff drivers in the starting lineup. Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and points leader Kyle Busch will start 16th-17th and 18th, respectively. 

Larson smiled on pit road acknowledging how close he came to swiping the top qualifying position in his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He remained optimistic that the near-miss was still a positive outcome in the big picture. Dover has been one of his best tracks, statistically-speaking. He has eight Top-10 finishes in 11 starts – including a pair of runner-up finishes in 2016 and 2017. He was third at Dover in May. 

Coincidentally, the only other time this season Larson started a race on the outside of Row 1 was at Bristol in August – again, right alongside Hamlin. 

"I felt like I ran a good lap,'' Larson said. "Three-hundredths of a second when you're going that fast isn't much.'' 

His expectations for the race? "A lot of fun,'' Larson said. 

RACE LINEUP

Pos # Driver Sponsor/Make Lap Speed
1 11 Denny Hamlin (P) FedEx Express Toyota 21.559 166.984
2 42 Kyle Larson (P) Clover Chevrolet 21.562 166.960
3 19 Martin Truex Jr. (P) Bass Pro Shops Toyota 21.66 166.205
4 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Busch Beer All Harvick Ford 21.687 165.998
5 9 Chase Elliott (P) Hooters Give a Hoot Chevrolet 21.695 165.937
6 24 William Byron (P) Axalta Chevrolet 21.721 165.738
7 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 21.73 165.670
8 20 Erik Jones DeWalt Toyota 21.737 165.616
9 1 Kurt Busch GEARWRENCH Chevrolet 21.767 165.388
10 12 Ryan Blaney (P) PPG Ford 21.781 165.282
11 48 Jimmie Johnson Ally Chevrolet 21.782 165.274
12 88 Alex Bowman (P) Cincinnati Chevrolet 21.838 164.850
13 21 Paul Menard Menards/Cardell Cabinets Ford 21.858 164.699
14 22 Joey Logano (P) Shell Pennzoil Ford 21.859 164.692
15 41 Daniel Suarez ARRIS Ford 21.866 164.639
16 2 Brad Keselowski (P) Wurth Ford 21.897 164.406
17 14 Clint Bowyer (P) ITsavvy/Haas Ford 21.901 164.376
18 18 Kyle Busch (P) Interstate Batteries Toyota 21.932 164.144
19 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fastenal Ford 21.975 163.823
20 95 Matt DiBenedetto Dumont Jets Toyota 21.977 163.808
21 38 David Ragan MDS Transport Ford 22.031 163.406
22 37 Chris Buescher Kroger Simmer Like A Winner Chevrolet 22.088 162.984
23 36 Matt Tifft # Delaware Lottery/Surface Ford 22.113 162.800
24 6 Ryan Newman Acronis Ford 22.127 162.697
25 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet 22.132 162.660
26 43 Bubba Wallace Victory Junction Chevrolet 22.137 162.624
27 3 Austin Dillon AAA Chevrolet 22.171 162.374
28 34 Michael McDowell The Pete Store Ford 22.228 161.958
29 32 Corey LaJoie Drydene Ford 22.32 161.290
30 0 Landon Cassill(i) Clean Origin Chevrolet 22.325 161.254
31 8 Daniel Hemric # Lucas Oil Chevrolet 22.363 160.980
32 47 Ryan Preece # Kroger Chevrolet 22.401 160.707
33 51 BJ McLeod(i) Jacob Companies Chevrolet 22.721 158.444
34 15 Ross Chastain(i) Low-T Center Chevrolet 22.874 157.384
35 52 JJ Yeley(i) Drive Smart Ford 23.023 156.365
36 27 Joe Nemechek(i) Chevrolet 23.061 156.108
37 54 Garrett Smithley(i) AQRE.app Ford 23.333 154.288
38 77 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 23.359 154.116

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