Watch Denny Hamlin's No. 11 FedEx Cares Toyota be wrapped for Dover International Speedway.
Denny Hamlin will run a retro scheme inspired by Cale Yarborough at Darlington Raceway.
RELATED: Complete starting lineup BRISTOL, Tenn. -- If it's pole day in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Joe Gibbs Racing must be celebrating. Denny Hamlin powered his No. 11 Toyota around .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway in 14.602 seconds (131.407 mph) on Friday to win the pole for Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race (on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET). In breaking Kevin Harvick 's August 2014 track qualifying record by .005 seconds, Hamlin won his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his third at Bristol and the 22nd of his career. JGR swept the top three spots in qualifying for the second straight week, having accomplished the feat last Saturday on the two-mile track at Michigan International Speedway. The pole was JGR's fifth straight on an oval track ( AJ Allmendinger , in a JTG Daugherty Chevrolet, claimed the top starting spot for the Aug. 9 race on the road course at Watkins Glen). Hamlin edged teammate Kyle Busch (131.263 mph) by .016 seconds. Carl Edwards (130.655 mph) took the third starting spot, followed by David Ragan in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota (130.460 mph) and Joey Logano in a Team Penske Ford (130.344 mph). Hamlin also won the pole for Friday night's NASCAR XFINITY Series race. "To have that two nights in a row here is hopefully going to pay dividends," Hamlin said. "We're excited. Bristol's been a great track for me in the past, and we've got nothing to lose this weekend, just gearing up for the Chase, so I think our FedEx team's ready." Hamlin has a victory at Bristol in addition to his two poles, and with a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup position guaranteed by virtue of his victory at Martinsville in April, he can go all-out for a win on Saturday night without fear of consequences. Busch fought handling issues in the final two rounds of knockout qualifying and went for broke on his final attempt in the last round. "We were just a little too free there the second segment and the first run of the third segment," Busch said. "It's a little edgy up there, so you try not to push too hard, but still make a good lap and come back safely. "Then there at the end we tried a ‘Hail Mary' and it worked. It picked us up speed, but it didn't pick us up that spot." Brad Keselowski , Kevin Harvick , Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson grabbed the sixth through 10th spots on the grid, respectively. The qualifying effort was Stenhouse's best of the year. Jeff Gordon will start 24th in his last race at Bristol as a full-time Sprint Cup driver. Travis Kvapil , Jeb Burton and Reed Sorenson failed to make the 43-car field.
RELATED: Full starting lineup Denny Hamlin was the car to beat in Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway, leading all three rounds en route to his first career XFINITY pole at the Tennessee short track. Hamlin rounded the 0.533-mile oval at 126.896 mph in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Hamlin's JGR teammate Kyle Busch will also start on the front row in tonight's Food City 300 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Busch used a fast lap of 126.312 mph to snag the runner-up spot in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Kevin Harvick , piloting the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend, will roll off the grid third (126.021 mph), while Richard Childress Racing 's Brian Scott will start fourth (125.996 mph). Points leader Chris Buescher rounded out the top five in his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford with a fast lap of 125.699 mph. Practice leader Brendan Gaughan advanced to the second round, but wasn't able to make the final round and will start 15th in tonight's event. Reigning series champion Chase Elliott advanced to the the final round and will roll off the grid 10th tonight.
Hamlin's bump of Austin Dillon for the lead leads to differing views RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings LOUDON, N.H. – To Denny Hamlin , it was just hard short-track racing for the win. To runner-up Austin Dillon , it was unnecessarily aggressive driving that led to Hamlin ’s victory in the Lakes Region 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. On Lap 179 of 200 at the Magic Mile, Hamlin drove his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to the inside of Dillon's No. 33 Chevrolet. Hamlin slid up the track into Dillon, broke the No. 33's momentum and took the lead. WATCH: Could payback be coming for Hamlin ? " Bad blood continues for Dillon, Hamlin Eventual third- and fourth-place finishers Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch also passed Dillon, who later regained the positions he lost to Keselowski and Busch but ran out of time in his pursuit of Hamlin . Earlier in the race Hamlin had two similar incidents with Busch, his teammate. And though Busch didn't appear particularly annoyed with Hamlin's tactics, Dillon was incensed. "He got to me, and I figured he was going to race, but he never even wanted to," Dillon said. "He wrecked his teammate and then proceeded to try and wreck me, and if I had gotten back to him, it would have happened to him." Hamlin wrote off the contact to all-out racing at a one-mile flat track. "The bottom line is, if you don't have any air on the outside of you, you just can't hold it," Hamlin said. "There was an example of that about three times today ... I want to thank 'Wheels' (crew chief Mike Wheeler) for giving me the dominant car. We had the best car, and just, wow, what a day." In Hamlin ’s view, Dillon wasn't blameless either. "Well, he jumped the restart, for one," Hamlin said. "I'm the control car, but that's fine. Eventually I was going to get back around him anyway. Same thing—I was a fender ahead, and he drove in there knowing that he was going to have to hold me low to hold the position, and I just washed up into him. "But that's two guys on a short track racing for the win." Dillon clearly had a different opinion. "What is racing, if you can't race side-by-side for more than a corner?" Dillon asked rhetorically. "He never even went through a corner with me, the whole race. He didn't want to. He just moved me. Missed the corner. Wrecked me. "I'm fine with racing rough. I promise you, I can do it to anybody. But if we're going to race like that, I need to know before you get to the first corner. Give me a corner at least." Dillon indicated there might be some payback in the offing but wouldn't reveal how or when. "I'm not going to talk about it," Dillon said. "He won't be ready." Hamlin's reply? "We’ve both got race cars." Dillon got the lead on Lap 175 moments after a restart following the sixth and final caution for Brian Scott 's blown engine. Both Hamlin and Dillon had stayed out on old tires under the previous yellow, but Keselowski came to pit road for fresh rubber on Lap 142. As it turned out, the new tires made little difference. "It was the right call and probably got us to third, instead of fourth or fifth," Keselowski said. "We just weren't as fast as the 33 and 20 were. ... We just weren't fast enough this weekend." Rookie Daniel Suarez ran fifth, followed by Ty Dillon , Regan Smith , Darrell Wallace Jr ., Chase Elliott and Brennan Poole . Series leader Chris Buescher finished 14th, one lap down, and saw his lead in the standings shrink to 31 points over second-place Elliott. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Denny Hamlin has his hood fly up for the second time in recent weeks, but stays on track as long as he can looking out the windshield.
Pocono has become a strong spot for No. 11 driver Denny Hamlin got his first pole in just his sixth career Cup race, but the second pole was even better, as it came packaged with a trip to Victory Lane. In 2006, the eventual Sunoco Rookie of the Year started out as an all-or-nothing qualifier, with eight top-10 starting positions but three 30th-or-worse qualifying efforts through the first 13 races of his rookie season. At Pocono, the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Chevrolet found plenty of qualifying speed, putting Hamlin on the pole for the Pocono 500 on June 11. And that’s where Hamlin finished, too. But it wasn’t one of those green-to-checkered dominating performances. Hamlin took off at the start, maybe even faster in race trim than qualifying trim, putting a 6-second lead on the field and leading 49 of the the 50 laps. But he had a tire go down and spun. Hamlin saved the spin, but the deflated tire did some damage to the rear fender. However, the Virginia native rebounded in a big way. Hamlin wound up leading 83 of the race’s 200 laps and made his first trip to Cup Series Victory Lane at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania track where he would repeat as pole and race winner six races later. That second trip to Pocono was a little less exciting for Hamlin as it was one of those pure domination events. He cruised to the win, leading 151 or 200 laps. In that outing it was teammate Tony Stewart who made headlines when he gave Clint Bowyer ’s No. 07 more than a little bump, causing it to careen into Carl Edwards ’ No. 99. Hamlin enters the Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 race with four wins, nine top fives and 12 top 10s in 18 starts. He looks good to make a run at his fifth victory there after a weekend at Dover that saw him take the pole and top the speed charts in the final two practices before a wreck-marred 21st-place finish. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dillon hints he would have wrecked Hamlin if given the chance Saturday LOUDON, N.H. – Denny Hamlin got the best of Austin Dillon in Saturday’s XFINITY Series Lakes Region 200 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, moving him out of the way in the corner with less than 30 laps to go to pick up his second win of the season. Don’t expect Dillon to forget about it. WATCH: Bad blood continues between Hamlin , Dillon “I missed one corner; I’ll take the blame for that. I got a little tight. … He got to me; figured he was going to race, but he never even wanted to,” said Dillon, who finished runner-up to Hamlin . “He wrecked his teammate ( Kyle Busch ) and then proceeded to try and wreck me. And if I would’ve gotten back to him, it would’ve happened to him. “What is racing if you can’t race side-by-side for more than a corner? He never even went through a corner with me. The whole race. Didn’t want to. He just moved me. Missed the corner; wrecked me. I’m fine with racing rough. I promise you I can do it to anybody. But if we’re going to race like that, I need to know before you get into the first corner, you know? Give me a corner, at least.” While the video shows Hamlin dive into the corner in an effort to gain position on Dillon’s No. 33 Chevrolet and then drift back up and make contact, it was contact that Hamlin explained in full detail in his post-race press conference as being Dillon’s fault. That said, it was also contact that Hamlin likely won’t lose sleep over, since he felt Dillon jumped the restart when his No. 20 Toyota was the control car. “I did feel like he left early. I was the control car and I was going to wait,” Hamlin said. “I typically start early in the box most restarts. I was going to wait until late in the box but he took off right in the middle of the box and short of just stacking the field up and not going, I didn’t want to wreck everybody behind me, so I just took off and continued that he was just going to jump the start and really nothing was going to be done about it.” Hamlin paused, before continuing to further explain why he shouldn’t take the blame. “There’s a misconception, I think, at this track on what responsibility the outside car has. The bottom lane at this track is the middle; it’s not the yellow line. Nobody runs on the apron at this race track. When you’re the outside car and you choose to run the middle and somebody is underneath you, you run a risk of that car more than likely washing up into you. Everyone’s done it. Austin’s done it. Kyle’s done it sometimes. We’ve all done it. “When that outside car chooses to hold you down and pinch you down, typically they get the bad end of the deal. I got the worst end of the deal in the first one with Kyle. When a car is on the bottom, I typically move up to the third lane to give the person an opportunity to stay underneath me. I did it with Kyle earlier in the race. I think he passed me twice and I kind of threw my hands up, moved up high and let him have the spot. With him and Austin, they both kind of ran the middle, trying to protect their position like they’re supposed to but it gives me just no opportunity to save my car. “I’m already committed to the bottom at that point. Once you let off the throttle and you turn down in, you’re hoping they give you the true bottom line, which is the middle, but when they don’t it’s a ‘you pinch, you pay’ type problem.” The extra wrinkle to all of this: Hamlin and Dillon are both full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers who still have to race on Sunday in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network). And if Dillon’s post-race temperament was any indication, he certainly wouldn’t shy away from any contact. Only thing is, Dillon, winless and mired in 21st in the standings, is the one that can’t afford to wreck his race car seeking retaliation. Hamlin has his Chase for the Sprint Cup all but wrapped up via a Martinsville win earlier this year. Still, is he worried? “Not really. I have a win. I have nothing to lose, basically,” Hamlin said. “It’s just heat of the moment. Obviously, as upset as he was that I moved him out of the way, I was just as upset that he jumped the restart. We’re both racing for a win and I’ve been on the other side of somebody moving me out of the way for a race win inside 20 to go and especially on a short track. It happens. It’s part of short-track racing. The two instances when I got into both Kyle and Austin, I didn’t wreck anyone. Definitely didn’t spin anyone out.” This isn’t the first time the pair have had their issues. Hamlin and Dillon got into it at Texas Motor Speedway two years ago and exchanged heated words post-race. Those words stuck with Dillon, the grandson of team owner Richard Childress. “I’ve reworked a relationship with Denny ,” Dillon said. “He called me a spoiled rich kid in Texas two years ago and I hate it, you know what I mean? He said just the last name and I said, ‘My last name is Dillon, not Childress, but he is my grandfather.’ I always act with class. Everybody in the media knows that. And I’ve worked my way here just like anybody else. But Denny , acting like that, what does he want me to call him, you know? I don’t do that. I know how to act.” When asked in his press conference what Dillon should call him, Hamlin had one simple, two-word response. “A winner.” FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Denny Hamlin makes a move on Austin Dillon to grab the lead with 21 to go and was able to hang on and grab the checkers for his first career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Drivers give feedback on new rules package at Indy SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- There was the unexpected stall on track by six-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the opening session and the hood on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin that disintegrated just as the second practice got underway, but neither were related to the new high drag aerodynamic package that debuted Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams began preparations for Sunday's Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard with a taller spoiler (9-inches), a 1-inch wicker bill, as well as changes to the splitter and splitter extension panel. The move could improve passing on the narrow, 2.5-mile track. But the jury was still out after nearly five hours of on-track activity Friday. "Passing will be tough to say the least," Hamlin , fastest in the first of three sessions, said. "We're trying something new. I can't fault (NASCAR) for trying – they tried what we wanted to try and I thought we had a pretty successful race (at Kentucky) and now we're trying something different. "We'll see if it's better or not. Still, here is a very tough race track. This is a one-groove race track where it's definitely been tough to pass here for 15 years or as long as I've been here. It's just going to be one of those tough tracks." Johnson's troubles were the result of a faulty fuel pump. Hamlin's miscue came as a result of hood pins that weren't properly secured. Other than a spin here, a brush with the wall there, it was a day most spent trying to find the balance between speed and drivability. Some found it; some are still searching. NASCAR rolled out a low downforce setup for the Kentucky race, and while the tire provided wasn't built specifically for the package, the results were generally favorable. A version of the Indy package, which will also be in play next month when the series returns to Michigan International Speedway, was tested briefly last year. Because of the uncertainties, teams were allowed one engine change prior to Saturday's qualifying and also ran their practices with on-board data acquisition systems. Teams were instructed to bring four different gears to Indy for possible use, starting with a 3.70 before giving option of 3.70 or 3.75 gear for the second session. By the final practice, the options were 3.75 and 3.80. "I honestly think until we get into the race on Sunday that it's hard to get anyone's true opinion on what we are going to have," Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) said. "… I really don't. To me on Sunday when you get two cars side-by-side with this package the guy in third is going to have an extra engine. It's going to be crazy the amount of speed that he is going to have. I don't know, the restarts are going to be pretty wild, I think." Teams did take part in an open test here in April, following a two-day Goodyear tire test. But the high drag package was not a part of those tests. The data gathered months ago isn't completely useless, Team Penske driver Joey Logano said, but much of it no longer relates. "I think a lot of that transfers over, but there is still quite a bit of difference," he said. "When you look at your wedge or your track bar or nose weight -- those three things for sure, maybe rear springs -- those changed probably the most when you have a package that's so different than what they tested here or what we ran last year even. "We're just trying to find a balance for those three and those … are a challenge enough, but obviously there's a lot more to that package than just that." A day that began for teams at 6:30 a.m. ended with most sifting through data, changing engines, and "basically totally re-prep your car," Team Penske competition director Travis Geisler said. "This was a hell of a day." What, if anything, was learned? "I think it's definitely going to take guys being forced into situations, which is what the race does, to make things happen," he said. "Something that just never happens in practice. You can't force guys to do that. … It is, he said, "a lot of the reason why NASCAR has gone in the direction of ‘hey, we're going to go to the race track and see what happens.' "We've all spent a lot time, energy, resources on going to large scale tests and you still just never generate the motivation for guys to put themselves in uncomfortable positions. "There has to be something on the line and I think kissing the bricks is as much on the line as guys can get." Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) led the final practice. Coors Light Pole qualifying (NBCSN) to set the 43-car field is scheduled to being at 1:10 p.m. ET Saturday. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule