Winning the pole for the Brickyard 400 may just be the right stuff for Denny Hamlin to kick start his title drive.
Although Hamlin has two wins and nine top-five finishes in 19 races, he has three finishes of 25 or worse in that same stretch, still a lot to prove after losing the title to Jimmie Johnson in 2010.
“We knew that this is the turning point of the season,” said Hamlin who drives the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. We feel like from Indy to Richmond (last race before the Chase) is when you’re going to start to see who’s going to fight for a championship.
“Everyone has got their Chase cars prepared, bringing them to the racetrack, starting to tune on them, and that’s when you want to start running good.”
Carl Edwards, who qualified second in a Roush Fenway Ford, was just trying to make the Chase after losing the title to Tony Stewart in a tie-breaker last year.
Roush Fenway had replaced Edward’s long-time crew chief, Bob Osborne, with Chad Norris in an attempt to get their driver into the Chase from 11th place with no wins (thus not eligible for a “wild card”).
Speaking of his qualifying effort “everybody has worked really hard for the last 12 days or however long that it takes to make this happen and it's just one lap,” Edwards said.
“But this is the first step towards our comeback to make the Chase, and I think everybody did a good job,” Edwards added.
Joey Logano, Hamlin’s teammate and in the last year of his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing, was third in another Toyota.
Eric Almirola was a bit of a surprise in fourth in another Ford.
Five-time Champ, Jimmie Johnson had the fastest Chevrolet.
Reed Sorenson and Joe Nemechek failed to make the field. Michael McDowell’s qualifying was disallowed after a NASCAR inspection found too much nitrogen in a shock absorber.
The 2013 Toyota RAV4 is one of the latest entrants in the hotly contested compact crossover segment. If I blur the lines slightly, and blend compact and midsize CUVs, they accounted for 6 out 20 of the bestselling vehicles in Canada for 2012. These things are big business.