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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)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished in fifth place and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Both Johnson and Harvick are in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS finished in fourth place and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished in fifth place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Harvick is in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS finished in 2nd place and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finished in 26th place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Gordon is in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
David Ragan, driver of the #34 Taco Bell Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, are seen on the track after crashing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, drives with damage to his car after crashing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying first for the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS qualified for sixth position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS qualified for third position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Harvick is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS qualified for second position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates setting the pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, smiles at Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate a Driver Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, prepares for practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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