Hamlin grabs pole at Dover

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Updated: 5/31/2013 5:58 pm

Dover, DE (Sports Network) - Denny Hamlin won his second consecutive pole by posting the quickest lap in Friday's qualifying for the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Hamlin, who drives the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with FedEx as his team's sponsor, turned a lap at 157.978 mph for his third pole of the season and the 15th of his Sprint Cup Series career. He won the pole for 600-mile race at Charlotte last week.

It's also the second straight pole win for Hamlin at Dover. He started first for the September 2012 race here.

With temperatures reaching close to 90 degrees, drivers had to deal with a very slick track during qualifying.

"When I ran the lap, I wasn't in love with it," Hamlin said. "Fundamentally, I thought I didn't do that great of a job. I knew the track conditions were really bad. We were sixth in practice (held earlier in the day), and we were only a tenth (of a second) off of what we ran in practice. In the back of my mind, I'm preparing for the worst, hoping for the best."

Hamlin continues to march forward in the point standings in hopes of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. The 32-year-old driver missed four races -- Martinsville, Texas, Kansas and Richmond -- while recovering from a compression fracture in his lower back that he suffered during an accident in the March 24 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. After finishing second at Darlington and fourth at Charlotte, Hamlin has moved up to 24th in points. He was 31st prior to Darlington. There are 14 races remaining before the Chase begins.

Martin Truex Jr., who hails from nearby Mayetta, NJ, earned the outside pole with a lap 157.798 mph. Truex's lone victory in NASCAR's premier series came in June 2007 at Dover (215 races ago).

"We weren't sure what the track was going to give us there," Truex said. "We knew it was going to be a lot slicker. (Crew chief) Chad (Johnston) made some really good adjustments. The car was close, but it wasn't perfect by any means. Good job by all the guys (No. 56 team)."

Hamlin's teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth qualified third and fourth, respectively, giving JGR three of the top-four starting positions. Ryan Newman completed the top-five.

"I was a little too tight and had to slow up a little bit through turns 3 and 4 and just missed our opportunity to get another pole for us, but it was a great effort by the (No. 18) team."

Mark Martin took the sixth spot, followed by Kevin Harvick, who won last Sunday at Charlotte, Brad Keselowski, the defending series champion, Joey Logano and Jamie McMurray.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 12th, while his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, placed 24th. Johnson is the current points leader and winner of last year's spring race at Dover. He is tied with Bobby Allison and Richard Petty for most all-time wins at this track with seven.

Danica Patrick will start 39th.

All 43 drivers who attempted qualifying made the starting field for Sunday's 400-mile race at Dover, which is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. ET.

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