Clean Sweep: Hamlin leads qualifying, taking pole at Michigan

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 10: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, poses with the pole award after qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consmers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 10, 2018 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin saved his best for last. Hamlin put down the fastest lap of the day Friday to secure the pole for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

After sweeping the first two rounds, Hamlin was first out in the final five minutes of round 3 putting down a lap of 35.504, 202.794 mph to secure his second pole of the season, the 28th of his career and his first at Michigan.

“We love to see results when you work so hard,” Hamlin said. “The toughest part is when you work really hard and you don’t get the results and really we had unfortunate circumstances happen to us last weekend with that stop, but overall just been so happy with our performance. Showing up today with a car that was just driving great all day.”

Hamlin, who also led Friday’s lone practice, also scored back-to-back poles for the second time in his career having won the pole at Watkins Glen last week.  His first back-to-back poles came in 2013 at Charlotte and Dover.

Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch will start second.  Busch had won the second starting spot at Watkins Glen but was forced to start in the back of the field after failing pre-race, post-qualifying inspection last Sunday. With a different schedule this weekend, Busch was able to retain his spot.

“Just missed it a little bit here today to be able to get that number one spot and that number one pit stop because that’s really important here at Michigan,” Busch said. “We’ll see how Sunday goes, but typically I wouldn’t say that Michigan is one of our best places.”

Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon round out the top five.

The only drama came for Daniel Suarez who smacked the wall in round 1. He was able to make it back to the pits, but the team will have to effect repairs Saturday.

“We’re fortunate, the car is still very fast and the car is not too bad,” he said. “We just have to fix it and hopefully tomorrow come back for practice and get ready for the race.”

Along with Dillon, Ryan Newman helped give the Richard Childress Racing duo a strong showing and will start sixth.

“We have been working hard,” Dillon said.  “You are fighting against guys every weekend, just a little bit goes a long way and it proves back at the shop the hard work and effort they’re putting in is paying off.”

Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano and William Byron round out the top 10. Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch were the final two drivers to advance to the final round and will start 11th and 12th respectively.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 will get the green flag just after 2:30 p.m. Sunday with live coverage on NBCSN.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – Consumers Energy 400
Michigan International Speedway
Brooklyn, Michigan
Friday, August 10, 2018

1. (11)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 202.794 mph.

2. (18)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 202.731 mph.

3. (4)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 202.100 mph.

4. (20)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 201.805 mph.

5. (3)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 201.748 mph.

6. (31)  Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 201.658 mph.

7. (78)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 201.421 mph.

8. (12)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 201.309 mph.

9. (22)  Joey Logano, Ford, 201.230 mph.

10. (88)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 201.185 mph.

11. (10)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 200.524 mph.

12. (41)  Kurt Busch, Ford, 200.033 mph.

13. (17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 200.842 mph.

14. (21)  Paul Menard, Ford, 200.814 mph.

15. (1)  Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 200.574 mph.

16. (14)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 200.267 mph.

17. (42)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200.072 mph.

18. (2)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 199.590 mph.

19. (48)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 199.496 mph.

20. (24)  William Byron #, Chevrolet, 199.231 mph.

21. (9)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 199.077 mph.

22. (43)  Bubba Wallace #, Chevrolet, 197.721 mph.

23. (37)  Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 197.596 mph.

24. (38)  David Ragan, Ford, 197.439 mph.

25. (47)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 197.352 mph.

26. (6)  Trevor Bayne, Ford, 197.298 mph.

27. (13)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 197.298 mph.

28. (95)  Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 197.287 mph.

29. (34)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 196.512 mph.

30. (32)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 196.383 mph.

31. (00)  Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 195.567 mph.

32. (72)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 193.533 mph.

33. (51)  BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 191.744 mph.

34. (99)  Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 190.446 mph.

35. (15)  Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 189.663 mph.

36. (7)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 188.344 mph.

37. (66)  Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 185.648 mph.

38. (96)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 184.054 mph.

39. (23)  Blake Jones, Toyota, 182.315 mph.

40. (19)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 0.000 mph.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.