Toyota is always looking to do something they have not done yet, and Denny Hamlin gave them something just like that this weekend. Taking his first ever pole at the Brickyard, also a first for Toyota, Hamlin set a pace to take his 11th career pole at 49.244 seconds (182.763 mph) that no one even came close to. Toyota has still not won a race at the Brickyard so Denny still has some work to do to complete the wish list for NASCAR’s newest manufacturer.
“I think, if you put me out front on the last run, no one’s going to get around me,” Hamlin said. “So it’s all going to be about maintaining track position and maintaining the balance of your race car. I’ve been good here before and not been able to pass.
“There’s always been about two cars, in every single race here, that’s been capable of passing. Everyone else just kind of runs where they’re at. All you can do is hope that you’ve got a fast enough car to be one of those two, where, if you do get set back, you can be one of the cars that can get back to the front.
“One thing about it is having the No. 1 pit stall now. That’s going to be an advantage on pit road. I think it’s hard to point to the outfield right now, but we’ve got the bat halfway raised.”
Carl Edwards looked competitive for the first time in a long time out on the track. Taking the second position along side Hamlin for the start of the race, Edwards is in a position to get a much needed win if he hopes to keep his chase hopes alive. With changes happening this season with his team and undisclosed health issues for his crew chief Bob Osbourne, Edwards team has been struggling since the start of the season. Uncertainty seems to remain in the Roush stables about what will happen with the make up of this team, but they remain strong willed and are taking things as they come, and standing strong together.
“Everybody knows that what we’re trying to do right now is make the team better, and to fix any issues we might have,” Edwards said. “… If we don’t do any better here, and Bob’s up to it, we’ll probably put Bob right back in as soon as he’s able. But if this goes well — if Bob’s doing well in his new role and that’s the best thing for him, and Chad’s doing great — we’ll move forward doing this. Nothing is in stone right now. It could be a whole different scenario next week. Everybody knows that. We’re just doing all that we can right now to be as good as we can right now.”
A.J. Allmendinger has been dealing with his own personal scandal now like he faces everything on the track, with determination and confidence. After both of his test samples came back positive for an illegal substance under NASCAR’s drug and Alcohol policy, Allmendinger will enter a recovery program, while he works with an independent lab to determine how exactly he gave a positive result. Allmendinger still claims that he at no time knowingly took any drug that is on NASCAR’s list, he is determined to get back to racing whatever the cost. By entering the recovery program he is taking the correct track in getting back to racing.
Everyone appears to be in Allmendingers corner here as he enters the program and continues to try to clear his name.
“We’re very pleased that A.J. Allmendinger has chosen to participate in the NASCAR Road to Recovery program,” NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said. “It’s designed, as proven, to provide a road map leading to a return to competition, and we wish him the best of luck. As we have with other competitors, we look forward to the day when the program administrator recommends him for reinstatement.”