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Hamlin leads JGR front row at Fontana

Denny Hamlin took pole position at Fontana with a lap of 38.626s (186.403 mph) just 0.181s faster than his Joe Gibbs Racing team mate Kyle Busch.
Denny Hamlin was delighted to finally put the #11 into the top ten on the grid for the first time in 2012, and furthermore he managed to do it in style - with pole position for Sunday's Auto Club 400 race at Fontana in California.

Hamlin put in a lap of 38.626s (186.403 mph) on the 2-mile D-shaped oval at the Auto Club Speedway, with his Joe Gibbs Racing team mate Kyle Busch due to start alongside him from second place. The third member of the JGR squad, Joey Logano, also qualified in the top ten in eighth position.

"Everyone had a different way of doing it," said Hamlin of the many different approaches to qualifying taken in the gusty conditions on Friday afternoon. "It seemed like there were some guys who were five lanes up and some who just worked their way down. We were one of the few cars that ran all the way on the bottom."

While Busch had gone top by learning from Logano's fast lap, Hamlin stuck to his own instincts when it came to deciding his own line for qualifying.

"Really, I think I would have been less efficient running the top, even though it might have been faster," he said. "My safest route was to take the bottom, and I just took what it gave us."

Hamlin's late run deposed Busch from the top spot, with Busch already in a dead heat for the provisional pole with Michael Waltrip Racing's Mark Martin holding the identical time.

Busch gets the better grid position by virtue of the #18 having finished higher than the #55 in the 2011 owners' standings, putting Martin on the second row alongside series points leader Greg Biffle.

Last year's race winner Kevin Harvick starts from seventh position alongside Logano. Current Cup champion Tony Stewart starts behind them in ninth place, alongside Jimmie Johnson in tenth.

Robby Gordon, Joe Nemechek and Timmy Hill failed to qualify for the 43-car grid; it's Nemechek's first failure to qualify since Phoenix in Nov. 2010.

Full qualifying and Friday practice times.



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Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, climbs out of his car after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 23, 2012, in Fontana, Calif. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Teammates Kyle Busch, left, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, Joey Logano, centre, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, right, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, talk during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 23, 2012, in Fontana, Calif. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS qualified for 33rd position after hitting the wall Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Harvick, who is in the Chase, is 2nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.  (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS qualified for 9th position Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Newman, who is in the Chase, is 3rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS qualified for 13th position Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Gordon, who is in the Chase, is 7th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.  (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS won the pole position and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS qualified for 16th position Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. McMurray, who is not in the Chase, is 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. This was McMurray`s 2nd Pole win this season. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Mcdonald’s Chevrolet SS won the pole position Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. McMurray, who is not in the Chase, is 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. This was McMurray`s 2nd Pole win this season. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, climbs into his car prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, sits in his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Danica Patrick alongside the #10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing on pit road at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)
Danica Patrick driving the #10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finished in 5th position and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS finished in 12th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Newman, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Kahne, who was also in the Chase, did not advance. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finished in 26th position and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet SS finished in 13th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Gordon, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished in 9th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Harvick, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Smithfield Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, are involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Cessna Chevrolet, spin out into the grass during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Crew members work on the Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, in the garage area during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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