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NASCAR Dover Starting Lineup 2012: Denny Hamlin Grabs Surprising Pole Position

Denny Hamlin's sports psychologist told him to fall in love with Dover International Speedway, which is easily Hamlin's weakest track in the Chase.

The Monster has been tough for Hamlin to like based on his past results, but Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session was like a Cupid arrow to Hamlin's heart.

Hamlin won the pole position for Sunday's AAA 400, the third race of NASCAR's Chase and perhaps the most important one of the season for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

"It definitely was exciting to get the pole here for us," Hamlin said. "Darian (Grubb, crew chief) is working up some magic. Our qualifying is definitely better this year. Starting from the pole will obviously be a huge advantage for us on Sunday."

The pole was Hamlin's third of the season – tying his career high (2006). He also had the pole at Indianapolis and Fontana earlier this year. The driver said the pole was good for him both mentally and performance-wise, saying it was a 50/50 split.

One of the keys will be the No. 1 pit stall at Dover, which is very important in gaining positions on pit road.

"Track position is second to none here, and we're going to need that for tuning our car," Hamlin said. "We know what we've got now. Now we've just got to execute and make sure we have a flawless day on Sunday."

Behind Hamlin are two more Toyotas – Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr., who are both from Michael Waltrip Racing.

"We just messed up in (Turns) 3 and 4 a little bit," Truex Jr. said. "We should have had the pole there. That's my bad."

Heavy favorite Jimmie Johnson qualified 11th, and Brad Keselowski (second in points) was 10th. All of the Chase drivers are in the top 15 except for Tony Stewart (24th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (25th).

David Stremme, Mike Bliss, Jason Leffler, Cole Whitt and Kelly Bires failed to qualify for the event.

Here's the starting lineup for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway (Chase drivers in BOLD):

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Clint Bowyer
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Sam Hornish Jr.
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Greg Biffle
  7. Jeff Gordon
  8. Ryan Newman
  9. Kasey Kahne
  10. Brad Keselowski
  11. Jimmie Johnson
  12. Matt Kenseth
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. Joey Logano
  15. Carl Edwards
  16. Bobby Labonte
  17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  18. Regan Smith
  19. Paul Menard
  20. Jamie McMurray
  21. Aric Almirola
  22. Landon Cassill
  23. Josh Wise
  24. Tony Stewart
  25. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  26. Mark Martin
  27. Marcos Ambrose
  28. Kurt Busch
  29. Reed Sorenson
  30. Casey Mears
  31. David Ragan
  32. Michael McDowell
  33. Travis Kvapil
  34. Scott Speed
  35. Juan Pablo Montoya
  36. Scott Riggs
  37. Joe Nemechek
  38. Danica Patrick
  39. Jeff Burton
  40. JJ Yeley
  41. T.J. Bell
  42. David Gilliland
  43. Dave Blaney
DNQ: David Stremme, Mike Bliss, Jason Leffler, Cole Whitt, Kelly Bires.