Hamlin takes Pole at Dover

Denny Hamlin rolled to the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday afternoon's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Dover International Speedway.

Hamlin drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a fast lap of 160.121 mph on the 1-mile concrete oval. He'll start first in Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks

The pole position was Hamlin's first of the season, third at the Monster Mile and 21st of his Sprint Cup career. The pole-winning lap was significantly slower than the track qualifying record of 164.444 mph set by Brad Keselowski in May.

"It's great," said Hamlin, who also won the Dover pole in September 2012 and May 2013. "Obviously our car's shown speed all day long, which is something that we haven't had lately, so we're kind of building and getting a little bit better and starting to figure out our setups and whatnot. So we're getting better and obviously this kind of shows it."

Martin Truex Jr., second in the Sprint Cup standings, will share Sunday's front row in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet after notching the second-fastest lap at 159.723 mph. Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano completed the top five.

Defending Sprint Cup champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick qualified sixth-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Kyle Busch, making just his second start of the season in points-paying races since returning from serious leg injuries in a February crash at Daytona, earned the 10th starting spot in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota.

Some big names were left out of later qualifying rounds at the two elimination stages in the three-round format. Jimmie Johnson, a nine-time Dover winner in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet, was among them. After leading opening Sprint Cup practice earlier in the day, he posted just the 14th-fastest lap in Round 2, failing to make the final cut to determine the top 12 starters.

"I think, in a sense, we maybe didn't make the changes we need to or thought we needed to change, because the car had so much speed in that first practice session, but it's a totally different race track," Johnson said. "And we tried to plan ahead and made some small changes, but it wasn't enough."

Kurt Busch was also in that unfortunate group, making just the 13th-best lap to miss the cut for the final, five-minute round.

Keselowski was the final driver to make the cut after Round 1, edging Kasey Kahne by .005 seconds for the 24th spot. The Team Penske driver ended up qualifying 19th. Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart also just missed the cut, posting the 26th-fastest lap.

Jeff Green and Travis Kvapil failed to qualify for the 43-car field.