Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Morning Dover Notebook

Surprise Dover pole winner Denny Hamlin
Most of the pre-race hype centered on Sprint Cup point leader Jimmie Johnson, but when the rubber met the road Saturday, Denny Hamlin surprised even himself by claiming the pole position for Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, turning a fast lap in 22.599 seconds, at 159.299 mph.

Hamlin was just 0.005 seconds faster than fellow championship contender Clint Bowyer, claiming his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season and the 12th of his career. Martin Truex Jr. will start third today, followed by Sam Hornish Jr. and Kyle Busch.
Dover has never been a strong track for Hamlin, who has averaged a 20th-place finish there for his career. He credited crew chief Darian Grubb and a strong Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the pole, calling his fast lap, “probably 75 percent car and 25 percent the driver. There (are) a lot of drivers out there who could be able to do what I do with the cars that Darian's been giving me these last few weeks.
“I'm going to give him pretty much all the credit and ride his back as long as it'll hold me."
He admitted, however, that he has adapted his driving style recently to adapt for the different feel of Dover’s high-banked, concrete layout.
"It's tough for me to change the way I've been driving for 20-some years when I come to this track,” he said. “I've broken down a lot of film over these last few days to try to get better at it. The only way you can continue to stay on top in this sport is to continue to evolve."
Title contenders Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon will start sixth and seventh today, with fellow Chase contenders Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski ninth and 10th. Johnson will take the green flag from 11th place, with Chase driver Matt Kenseth 12th; Kevin Harvick 13th; Tony Stewart 24th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 25th.
Logano scores again!
Joey Logano has become all but untouchable in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition at Dover International Speedway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won his season-high seventh Nationwide race of 2012 – and second of the year at Dover -- leading 184 of 200 laps to claim the checkered flag in the One Main Financial 200, besting runner-up Paul Menard, Michael Annett, championship leader Elliott Sadler and Kyle Busch.
"My Monster Trophy from last time was lonely and needed a friend," said Logano afterward. "I'm glad I was able to get one for him. My car in the spring may have been even better. This No. 18 car is running for the owner's championship, and this should definitely help.”
Title contender Ricky Stenhouse Jr.. finished ninth Saturday, and now trails Sadler by nine points in the championship chase. 
…Nelson Piquet Jr. snatched Victory from the jaws of defeat Saturday night, surging past leader Matt Crafton on the final lap to win the Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Piquet carries the Vegas colors.
Crafton had taken the top spot on the race’s final restart, and appeared to have the race in hand by covering the advantageous outside line. But Piquet dove to the bottom of Turn Two on the final circuit, completing the pass before sliding in front of Crafton and holding off the ThorSport Racing driver to claim his second Truck Series win of the season.
”He was running high all the time," admitted Piquet in Victory Lane. "When I saw him running up (the track), I started attacking the bottom for a few laps. And it worked in the end.”
"That is the hardest way to lose a race," said a crestfallen Crafton. "I will not sleep for a week. I'll be thinking what I could have done different."
Polesitter Joey Coulter continued his late-season surge with a third place finish, followed by Las Vegas native Brendan Gaughan and Todd Bodine. James Buescher closed with a single point of championship leader Ty Dillon with a sixth-place finish, followed by Cale Gale, Timothy Peters, David Mayhew and Dillon. Piquet’s last-lap pass marked the 17th lead change of the event, breaking a LVMS Truck Series record set in 2009.
Photos: Tom Pennington/Getty Images, Chris Graythen/Getty Images, Getty Images


1 comment:

  1. Joey stunk it up in Delaware, and how bout Piquet?! Crafton says he'll be awake at night thinking of what he could have done. I'd like to reach out to him and say- NOTHING! Nelson wasn't going to be denied, and that was a whale of a pass for the win. He drove the heck outta that thing.

    Those Gibbs boys looked like they didn't want to share with anyone and then here come that Keselowski, Wolf tandem. No doubt, a force to be reckoned with for the cup.

    This is some great stuff.