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Hamlin makes statement of intent with pole

Denny Hamlin isn't a natural at the 'Monster Mile' so Dover looked like it could derail his new-found Chase momentum - but he's answered the doubters with pole position.
After Denny Hamlin won last weekend with a dominant performance at New Hampshire, the big question was whether he could maintain his Chase momentum through this week's race at Dover International Speedway, a circuit that hasn't suited him all that well in the past.

He took care of the sceptics at the earliest opportunity, when he clinched pole position by a slender 0.005s on the one-mile oval with a lap of 22.599s (159.299 mph), with his fellow Chase contender Clint Bowyer set to start alongside him on the front row for Sunday afternoon's AAA 400 race, the third event of the 2012 Chase.

"There's no reason we can't win," said Hamlin after qualifying. "We've been working on getting our cars better and driving better," he added, remaining characteristically modest: "I think probably 75 percent was the car and 25 percent the driver."

As for why Dover has not been a happy hunting ground for him int he past, Hamlin explained that the track's characteristics simply didn't seem to gel with his personal way of driving.

"I typically don't run as strong on corner entry and use less brake is my driving style on a lot of race tracks, he explained. "Here, it just really rewards driving in hard, using the brake and then just matting it on exit. I'm typically better with throttle management on exit.

"Between that and the concrete that I don't have the good of a feel for," he continued. "I just think that it's tough for me to change the way I've been driving for twenty-some years when I come to this track. Its habits that I've tried to break," he added, revealing that he'd been watching a lot of films of how he drives to try and break down the issues and improve his performances at Dover.

"That's the only way you can continue to stay on top in this sport is to continue to evolve," he pointed out. "You just can't rest on what you've been doing for forever because these drivers are just too good.

Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer was disappointed to lose out on pole by such a spender margin, while his team mate Martin Truex Jr. will start from third position.

"When you get that close and miss, it's a missed opportunity," Bowyer admitted. "I looked over on the second lap, I knew I kind of screwed my lap up. Crossed the finish line and saw I was in second and I knew it was close."




Related Pictures

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The #11 FedEx Toyota, driven by Denny Hamlin. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 29, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose for a photo prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane with team owner Dale Earnhardt jr. after winning the series championship during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet, wins the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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