Denny Hamlin Looking Forward to Race Day with Pocono Pole Run

Denny Hamlin, four-time winner at the ‘Tricky Triangle’, scored the pole for the 33rd annual Pocono 400 with a fast lap of 181. 415 mph and a time of 49.610 seconds. Hamlin broke Jimmie Johnson’s previous track record of 180.654 mph and 49.819 seconds set in August 2013.

This is Hamlin’s 19th pole in 304 Cup races, his second pole of the season and his third pole at Pocono Raceway. Hamlin’s previous two Pocono poles resulted in victories.

“It was really good throughout each session,” the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota said. “We were not a pole winning car after practice or really I didn’t think throughout the first round. We just kept getting our car three to four tenths better every time we ran it. A little bit of that was repetition and me getting better and Darian (Grubb, crew chief) made good adjustments throughout each session.”

“Really it all worked out for us for a pole run. I’m very proud to have that especially at a race track here where track position is going to be premium,” Hamlin continued. “I’m looking forward to Sunday now.”
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As at most tracks, Hamlin acknowledged that the first pit stall was one of the most important perks of having that pole run, however, shared a caveat that the first pit stall was better under the yellow flag than the green at Pocono.

“The number one pit stop is really good on yellow flag stops but it hurts you a little bit on the green flag stops simply because you don’t have the momentum exiting pit road,” Hamlin said. “But we’ll take it as most of the stops we will be doing will be on yellow flag positions. As tough as passing is, it’s better to be up front than battle through the traffic.”

Hamlin also credited his qualifying success with the fact that he felt the track was beginning to age a bit, thanks to the temperature changes and the weather. And for Hamlin, that edge could be just the ticket to another ‘w’ under his belt.

“As the track is wearing in, we’re starting to get our edge back,” Hamlin said. “Typically when you have a car that can get the pole, it tells me we have all the parts and pieces in the car to be successful here.”

Kurt Busch, behind the wheel of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, qualified in the runner up spot by just two one thousandths of a second. Busch qualified second with a speed of 181.408 mph and a time of 49.612 seconds and scored his fifth top ten start of the season.

“It was a great run for our Haas Automation Chevy,” Busch said. “We came here with a new approach and to try to get our front ends to settle into the race track a little better. This track can lead to finding some comfort with how smooth it is from the repave.”

“I was really surprised we had the speed for the pole,” Busch continued. “It’s great to be able to cash in on our first attempt to try a little something different.”

“It’s just nice to confirm a change on the car and see it go in the right direction.”

The third position in qualifying was secured by Brad Keselowski, with a speed of 181.316 mph and a time of 49.637 seconds. This was Keselowski’s second top-10 start at Pocono and the thirteenth pole for Team Penske in 2014.

“We were just all really close on speed,” the driver of the No. 2 Redd’s Ford said. “I didn’t think Denny was that quick but I knew by the second round that Kurt was. We put up a decent lap but just a tiny bit short. On a two and a half mile track, that’s pretty dang close.”

“I’m proud of the efforts qualifying each and every week,” Keselowski said. “It’s certainly helpful and I’m sure we will get a great pit stall which is always important to us.”

Kevin Harvick, in the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driving the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet rounded out the top five in qualifying, with speeds of 180.832 and 180.513 mph respectively.

All of the manufacturers were well represented in Pocono qualifying, with Kyle Busch’s Toyota in the sixth spot and then the Ford of Logano, the Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the Toyota of Brian Vickers and the Ford of Carl Edwards completing the top ten.

With just 0.562 seconds separating the tenth place qualifier, Carl Edwards, in that tenth spot in his No. 99 Kellogg’s/Cheez-It Ford, summed it up best.

“That was some pretty tight competition there,” Edwards said. “The track, the cars run really well here so if you make one small mistake it is really amplified because there is so much time on the throttle.”

“That is a tough qualifying session.”

2014 NSCS Pocono 400 Starting Lineup

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed
1 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 49.61 181.415
2 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 49.612 181.408
3 2 Brad Keselowski Redd’s Ford 49.637 181.316
4 4 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet 49.77 180.832
5 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 49.858 180.513
6 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Peanut Butter Toyota 49.873 180.458
7 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 50.048 179.827
8 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 50.121 179.565
9 55 Brian Vickers Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota 50.126 179.548
10 99 Carl Edwards Kelloggs/Cheez-It Ford 50.172 179.383
11 3 Austin Dillon # Dow Chevrolet 50.188 179.326
12 14 Tony Stewart Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 50.244 179.126
13 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 50.207 179.258
14 42 Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet 50.215 179.229
15 31 Ryan Newman Wix Filters Chevrolet 50.259 179.072
16 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 50.265 179.051
17 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 50.286 178.976
18 1 Jamie McMurray Cushman/Cessna Chevrolet 50.302 178.919
19 15 Clint Bowyer RK Motors Charlotte Toyota 50.342 178.777
20 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet 50.37 178.678
21 47 AJ Allmendinger Clorox Chevrolet 50.48 178.288
22 43 Aric Almirola Nathan’s Famous Ford 50.521 178.144
23 27 Paul Menard Moen/Menards Chevrolet 50.553 178.031
24 51 Justin Allgaier # BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet 50.765 177.288
25 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 50.549 178.045
26 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 50.571 177.968
27 5 Kasey Kahne Great Clips Chevrolet 50.588 177.908
28 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Zest Ford 50.61 177.83
29 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 50.801 177.162
30 7 Michael Annett # Pilot Flying J Chevrolet 51.047 176.308
31 40 Landon Cassill(i) Newtown Building Supplies Inc. Chevrolet 51.129 176.025
32 34 David Ragan Taco Bell Ford 51.159 175.922
33 32 Travis Kvapil Ford 51.175 175.867
34 23 Alex Bowman # Dr.Pepper Toyota 51.231 175.675
35 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver’s Ford 51.249 175.613
36 36 Reed Sorenson Theme Park Connection Chevrolet 51.441 174.958
37 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Ford Owner Points
38 44 JJ Yeley(i) All City Leasing & Warehousing Chevrolet Owner Points
39 66 Timmy Hill Land Castle Title Toyota Owner Points
40 26 Cole Whitt # Burger King Toyota Owner Points
41 83 Ryan Truex # Burger King Toyota Owner Points
42 33 Alex Kennedy Dream Factory Chevrolet Owner Points
43 77 Dave Blaney AmyFchlrVtrnsLwAttrnyLLC/ Frd Owner Points

(i) Ineligible for Driver Points in this Series, # Denotes Rookie

Source: Timing and Scoring provided by NASCAR Media/NASCAR Statistics

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