NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series continues today at the Auto Club Speedway at Fontana for the Auto Club 400. The race gets underway at 2:30pm eastern on FOX. Denny Hamlin edged his Joe Gibbs racing teammate Kyle Busch to his second pole at Fontana. Hamlin attributed his speed to the teams' strategy for the track.
"Everyone had a different way of doing it," Hamlin said. "It seemed like there were some guys who were five lanes up and some who just worked their way down. We were one of the few cars that ran all the way on the bottom.
"That's where we practiced, and I didn't want to change that. I'd done all my qualifying runs early in the day and practiced race runs on the bottom. Really, I think I would have been less efficient running the top, even though it might have been faster. My safest route was to take the bottom, and I just took what it gave us."
Jimmie Johnson qualified 10th and is looking to replicate his previous success at Fontana. The five time cup series champ has five wins there and was very near his sixth until Denny Hamlin ran him down on the final lap last year.
"I remember last year, we were very close to Victory Lane, about three-quarters of a mile away from the trophy, but Kevin Harvick found a way around the outside," Johnson said. "So, I know we'll go there and be very competitive this time."
Jeff Gordon will start back in 24th and is starting to feel the heat after a slow start to the season. Gordon said this week that it's not quite panic time yet, but he knows the results need to start coming.
"It's not an urgency, but we're starting to feel a little bit more pressure to put those finishes together that I know were capable of doing, which is the good thing," said Gordon. "That's a good problem to have. It's when you don't think you're capable of it that makes it challenging. I know we are, and this is a good track for us."
Gordon has three wins at Fontana, so this would certainly be a prime place to kick his 2012 season into high gear.
Here is the top 10 starting lineup for the Auto Club 400.
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Busch
- Mark Martin
- Greg Biffle
- Kasey Kahne
- Ryan Newman
- Kevin Harvick
- Joey Logano
- Tony Stewart
- Jimmie Johnson
Other notables include Carl Edwards in 12th & Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 14th.