Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Sports

Hamlin wins Sprint Cup pole at Fontana

FONTANA, Calif. — Denny Hamlin won the Sprint Cup pole for the second straight year at Auto Club Raceway, turning a lap of 187.451 mph on Friday.

Fellow Toyota drivers were not far behind.

Hamlin's JGR teammates, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, will start fourth and fifth, respectively. Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex will start seventh, Mark Martin eighth and Clint Bowyer (who had been the fastest during Friday's practice session) 12th.

Hamlin earned his first pole of the year and the 13th of his career. He won three last year and has won the pole three times at Auto Club Speedway.

"I told my crew I could pretty much guarantee the pole," said Hamlin, currently sixth in the point standings. "I knew our car was just ridiculous fast. I love this race track. A lot of the reason is because it's bumpy and it's worn out. We got tire fall-off … like three seconds between the beginning of a run and the end of a run. That always makes for good racing."

Greg Biffle finished second at 187.217 mph, and Brad Kese­lowski, who leads the points standings, third at 187.130 mph. But they must start at the back because they changed engines after experiencing problems during Friday's practice.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is second in points, qualified 15th while Danica Patrick qualified 40th via owners points.

Bowyer lawsuit: Bowyer asked a South Dakota judge to dismiss a motorcycle company's lawsuit against him that alleges he didn't pay for $31,000 of custom work it did on his Harley-Davidson four years ago. Bowyer said he paid the debt through promotional services, including arranging for a tour of restricted areas at Daytona speedway. There is no timetable for a ruling.

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