Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin was clearly enjoying seeing his name at the top of the timesheets at Dover International Speedway. After capturing his third pole position at the Monster Mile on Friday (his 21st pole in 339 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts), the 34-year-old from Tampa, Florida was clearly in hot pursuit of what would be his maiden win here as he continued to prove himself the leader of the pack throughout Saturday as he topped both pre-race practice sessions.

See Saturday practice times from Dover International Speedway.

In the first 50-minute morning session, Hamlin posted a best time of 23.028s (156.331mph) after turning 38 laps on the one-mile concrete oval, pipping his JGR team mate Carl Edwards by just one thousandth of a second. Stewart Haas-Racing's Kurt Busch was third fastest ahead of the Hendrick Motorsports #48 driven by Jimmie Johnson, while David Ragan put the Michael Waltrip Racing #55 into fifth place by the time the chequered flag came out.

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The same two names appeared at the top of the afternoon timesheets as well, with Hamlin this time recording an ever so slightly slower lap of 23.064s (156.087mph) to see off Edwards again, this time by the positively luxurious margin of 0.072s. Richard Childress Racing's Paul Menard was third fastest ahead of the remaining two JGR entries with Matt Kenseth in fourth ahead of Kyle Busch in fifth, relegating Johnson down to sixth place on this occasion.

There were no incidents in the morning session, but the afternoon practice got off to a less successful start when an oil leak from the rear of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car caused the session to be red flagged just 30 seconds in. Earnhardt retreated to the garage for repairs while the track workers cleared up the mess he had created, and as a result the 50 minute session was extended by an extra five minutes to make up for some of the lost time.

Earnhardt was able to get back out on track and rejoin the fun, and ended up running a decent 41 laps before the chequered flag came out. He finished in 19th place with a best time of 23.526s (153.022mph), meaning that the Hendrick squad would not have to worry overnight about any lingering problems for the #88.

The two sessions were the last opportunity for the drivers to get out on track before the start of the 400-mile race itself, which gets underway on Sunday afternoon at 1pm local time (6pm BST). Before then, the Xfinity Series will compete on Saturday afternoon in the Buckle Up 200 with Roush Fenway Racing's Darrell Wallace Jr. set to start on pole alongside team mate Chris Buescher.

See Saturday practice times from Dover International Speedway.