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Denny Hamlin wins pole position for NASCAR race in Fontana

March 22, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Denny Hamlin poses after qualifying for the pole position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400.
Denny Hamlin poses after qualifying for the pole position in the NASCAR… (Jonathan Ferrey / Getty…)

Three weeks ago Denny Hamlin got on NASCAR's bad side for complaining about the sport's new Gen-6 race car.

On Friday, Hamlin won the pole position for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

Hamlin turned a lap of 187.451 mph in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to earn the first starting spot in Sunday's Auto Club 400.

"I knew my lap was really good," Hamlin said. "Our car was just exceptional."

Greg Biffle qualified second, reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski was third, and Hamlin teammate Kyle Busch was fourth.

But because Biffle and Keselowski both had their Ford engines changed before qualifying, they'll have to start at the rear of the 43-car field when the race begins.

Hamlin said two weeks ago that the new car, at least at that point, did not race as well as the prior car used in the Cup series.

That drew a $25,000 fine from NASCAR, which said his "disparaging remarks" were "detrimental" to the sport. A defiant Hamlin at first said he would appeal the fine but later dropped the appeal.

Elsewhere in the field, defending Auto Club 400 winner Tony Stewart qualified eighth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 15th and Danica Patrick qualified 40th.

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