Denny Hamlin figures this weekend is when NASCAR’s real championship contenders begin to separate themselves from the pack. He thinks he’s part of that group – and he’s off to a pretty good start.
Hamlin won the pole position for the Brickyard 400 on Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, turning a lap of 182.763 mph in qualifying. And with a good run in the race today, Hamlin figures he can rev up his push for a title.
“This is the turning point of the season,” Hamlin said. “We feel like from Indy to Richmond is when you’re going to start to see who’s going to fight for a championship.”
It’s the 11th pole of Hamlin’s career and his second this season. Hamlin also won the pole at California.
Hamlin’s best finish in six career Brickyard starts is third in 2008. Coming into this weekend, he had never started higher than 10th at the historic 2.5-mile oval.
Carl Edwards qualified second in his first race weekend with new crew chief Chad Norris
Brad Keselowski took the lead when Elliott Sadler was penalized for jumping a late restart, then held on to win Saturday in a controversial finish to the first NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sadler passed Keselowski on a restart with 18 laps to go, but officials ruled that Sadler went too early and black-flagged him. Sadler stayed on the track for several laps, apparently hoping officials would reconsider, before finally coming in with 12 laps to go.
Keselowski went unchallenged to the finish on the historic 2.5-mile oval.
Sam Hornish Jr. was second, followed by Ty Dillon, Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon. The Dillon brothers are the grandsons of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress; Ty was making only his second career Nationwide start.
Lewis Hamilton of McLaren will start from the pole today at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest after winning the qualifying session ahead of Romain Grosjean and world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton clocked 1 minute 20.953 seconds Saturday.