Denny Hamlin will start from the pole ahead at the Auto Club 400 for the second year running at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota, set a time of 38.410 seconds, 187.451mph, as he headed towards his 13th pole in his 264 race Sprint Cup career, and his first of the 2013 season.
Hamlin had been the centre of a post-race scuffle at Bristol after an incident with Joey Logano resulted in Logano seeking out Hamlin in the paddock, before having to be restrained by mechanics.
“It’s good it’s positive so far, but the weekend is still young.” said Hamlin “The good news is these spoilers are so tall there’s no intimidation factor because you can’t see anybody. So I have no idea who’s behind me at any point. I’ll just do whatever I did last year, I’ll just do the same.”
The second-fastest time of the session came from Greg Biffle, who secured his third top-ten qualifying result of 2013 and his tenth in 19 starts at the Auto Club Speedway. However, an engine change for the #16 Ford will drop Biffle to the back of the field.
“The guys worked really hard to get the engine changed and I got out with three minutes to go [in practice] to make a lap.” explained Biffle. “We were able to make some adjustments from that lap and we were able to put down a pretty decent [qualifying] lap. We’ll have to start from the back, which is a little unfortunate, but the team worked really hard and I’m really proud of them.”
Championship leader Brad Keselowski set the third fastest time, posting his third top top-ten qualifying result of the season, but only his first top-ten in Fontana. An engine change for the #2 Ford means Keselowski will be joining fellow Ford driver Biffle at the back of the field.
“It’s unfortunate but it’s what it is.” said Keselowski. “Hopefully we’ll have a good time racing to the front. If it’s one particular item [in the engine] then I guess it is easier to fix it, assuming that can be done in the time frame available, but I think it is too early to tell on that as well because those engines aren’t scheduled to be tore down until tonight or tomorrow morning.”
The fastest rookie of the session was Ricky Stenhouse, Jr, who will line up in 31st position.