Strong Qualifying Run in CA
All three Joe Gibbs Racing entries will start from inside the top ten when the green flag waves to start the Auto Club 400 Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA.
The rains fell early today in Fontana, CA, but when officials were finally able to get the track dry it would be Denny Hamlin leading JGR’s efforts by qualifying his No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota in the second position. Hamlin posted a lap of 39.073 seconds and just narrowly missed the top spot.
“It’s been a good day,” said Hamlin. “Focusing on qualifying and things like that, I’ve really never worked so hard to work on just one lap before as much as I have this week. I’m trying to get better. Last week we had issues at Bristol and that was because we qualified bad. We can’t put ourselves in the middle of the pack every weekend. We’re trying to slowly work to get better at qualifying and I felt like I’m taking steps to do that.”
Meanwhile Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, was just behind his teammate with an impressive lap of 39.102 seconds to earn the third position.
“It was more surprising than anything else,” Logano said of his qualifying lap. “I didn’t think it was that great of a lap. I had a terrible time getting up to speed coming to the green. Thought that kind of set me up for a bad lap. I had a better (turns) one and two than I had in practice — so I’m excited about that. It was good. I’m excited about it.”
Kyle Busch managed an impressive effort despite an accident in the day’s only and abbreviated practice session that forced the team to bring out the backup car. Busch, who had hit a wet spot on the track that would result in contact with the wall, would earn the ninth position for the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota with a lap of 39.241 seconds.
“I just can’t say enough about these guys on this Interstate Batteries Camry this weekend so far,” said Busch. “Just today, I mean we waited (the rain) out. We had the car all ready to go and all of the sudden the first lap out I decided the guys didn’t have enough work today. So, we had to come in and get the backup out and we went through everything trying to make sure we had a good enough car just to get a lap on it at least in practice. Guys did a great job there and hustled along pretty well. Made some changes there for qualifying and got it pretty close to where we needed it. That’s good enough. That’s solid enough that we’ll take that and wherever it winds up and we can race them from there on Sunday.”
Juan Pablo Montoya of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing captured the pole with a lap of 38.992.