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What drivers had to say after Can-Am Duel No. 2, won by Denny Hamlin

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Denny Hamlin rebounded from a pit penalty to win the Cam-Am Duel No. 2 at Daytona International Speedway. It’s Hamlin’s third win in the qualifying race for the Daytona 500.

Here’s what drivers had to say after the 60-lap event.

Denny Hamlin, winner – “We definitely had a strong car but so much of that race was single file and so it was really tough to show what we could do in the pack once we got two and three wide, but it looked like our car could make some really good moves and got a great push from the 3 (Austin Dillon) there at the end. It looked like our cars worked really, really well together there so we’ll keep that in mind when I need somebody to draft with in the 500. Great job by the team. The car was great. Had a little penalty there but definitely felt confident we could come back from it and we did.”

Clint Bowyer, finished second – “Damn, this is fun again. Man, what a rocket ship. Hats off to all these guys that put all this hard work into these cars for Ford. This is going to be a great year. This is fun. (Crew chief) Mike (Bugarewicz) and all the guys on the 14 car, it is just – it has been a long time coming. It is fun to get out here on one of my favorite race tracks and run up front. I want to thank everybody.”

Kurt Busch, finished third – “I’m satisfied with it. We had a good run and it’s not on the wrecker. I just didn’t execute like I needed to. Me and and (Clint) Bowyer were like two brothers walking down the hallway looking at each and going in different directions. We just didn’t have a clean exchange. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, we just didn’t have a good exchange. I wasn’t able to execute to get to him back bumper and get to Denny (Hamlin) at the end.”

AJ Allmendinger, finished fourth –  “I lost the draft early on. When we go to the bottom we kind of struggle on the bottom there and need a little bit of help. We keep it wound up on the top. The car is pretty good. The last 10 laps I just hung to the top and kept hoping the line was going to move. The seas parted going into (Turn) 3. I thought ‘heck maybe I can get to the top two here’. And then about off of Turn 4 I thought ‘oh crap we are crashing this race car now.’ Overall I think it was the first time in awhile that we get to take the Kroger Click List Chevy primary car to the Daytona 500. We have had to take the back-up the last couple of years, so good night.”

Austin Dillon, finished fifth – “I felt like I put myself in a good position. I just… down the backstretch didn’t move quick enough, obviously, and put us to fifth. Good race anyways, I just feel like I needed to move faster to the right. I know the momentum is in the top lane and I didn’t get there.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished sixth  – “They just had a good run at the end. I was doing what I could to keep the lead, but once they got clear of that inside lane they built so much momentum real fast right there at the end of that back straightaway, and had such a big run. If it was the Daytona 500, same thing. There ain’t much you can do about that. It’s not really defendable. So, it’s a good job by Denny and those guys putting it all together at the end.”

Danica Patrick, finished seventh – “It was nice to tell Edsel Ford that the Ford was really good. I told him I’ve had my best finishes in stock car racing in Fords. It’s been a good start. The car is in one piece. I feel like the car is more stable in traffic than it has been in years. I feel like the power is good. I feel like we have a really good shot on Sunday. The cars is in good shape and running well.”

Ryan Newman, finished eighth – “Well we kept the Caterpillar Chevrolet in one piece, which was a challenge a couple of times there.  Just realized more so what we need to work on without any practice and know that we have a little better car than what we finished, but we don’t have a good enough car to win right now.  So, we’ve got some time to go to work.”

Kyle Larson, finished ninth – “I felt like my car works better in the bottom lane. I thought there, both Jamie, especially Jamie and myself, I thought we had more speed than we normally have at superspeedways. I was happy about that and looking forward to Sunday.”

Ty Dillon, finished 10th – “I’m still learning. As a rookie, this is only my third time doing it, but I’m getting more and more comfortable every time. I felt like this time I was actually able to relax and focus on learning and getting better drafting. It was a decent finish. Still made some mistakes, too many mistakes, but I’m getting better at it.”

David Ragan, finished 11th – “I was trying not to push the 21 too aggressive because Jimmie was side-drafting him pretty hard. When you’re pushing someone in front of you, it’s hard to push straight and when someone is side-drafting that hard, I was trying to lay off the 21 as much as I could and I think Jimmie just was tight and I just barely caught him in the right-rear quarter-panel and right-rear bumper cover and got him a little loose. It’s just part of racing hard. He was being a little risky side-drafting that hard and I was being a little risky pushing the 21, but you’ve got to race like that. If you don’t race aggressive in the top five or six, they shuffle you out pretty quick. It was fun to race up there with those guys.

Kasey Kahne, finished 14th – “I had a really strong car. I was really happy with it and everything out there. Kevin Hamlin (spotter) did a great job spotting. It was good. Denny (Hamlin) had so much speed he was just pushing on my bumper and he could just choose left or right. So, I kind of covered left and he went right and that put me behind and I was trying to work back up there and lost again towards the end.”

DJ Kennington, finished 15th – “I’m an old man now. Years and years of racing and trying and doing all these things is nothing but good things for my career. There are so many people that have helped me get here. That’s who I want to thank the most is anybody that’s ever pitched in and helped. Thank you. This is huge. This is huge for Canada. It’s huge for all my team and all my friends and my family. It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”

Ryan Blaney, finished 20th – “I thought it was going really good. I thought we were real fast. Our car was really, really fast. It showed a lot of speed and I was really happy with that. We were able to get good pushes and shove us towards the front. We kind of got back in the pack and were able to recover, which was really encouraging that we could be aggressive. We handled really good, so it’s not often you’ve got speed and handle well, so we’ll see how that goes on Sunday when it’s hot. Hopefully, we’ll be able to fix this.”

Starting grid for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 400

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With the second pole of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Kyle Larson will lead the field to green Sunday in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Joining Larson the front row is Denny Hamlin.

Filling out the top five is Brad Keselowski, Martin Treux Jr. and Ryan Newman.

Click here for the starting grid.

Kyle Larson wins pole for Auto Club 400, second Cup pole of career

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Kyle Larson ended a three-year drought by winning the pole for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 400.

Larson won his second Cup Series pole with a speed of 187.047 mph around Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. His first pole came in the August 2013 race at Pocono Raceway.

The pole continues Larson’s impressive start to 2017. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver leads the point standings after earning three consecutive second-place finishes.

“I felt like messed up there in Turn 1 and 2 and I got a little bit loose off the wall on the entry and it got me to split the seam in (Turn) 1 and 2,” Larson told Fox Sports. “I was able to commit to (being) wide open off (Turn) 1 and 2. I hadn’t ran up high in (Turn) 3 and 4 at all in practice or qualifying here. Didn’t really know what I would have out there but ran a good ways and it stuck. … Our Target team has been really amazing to start the season and to get a pole is great. … Got a little team dinner tonight, so this will be a good thing to celebrate.”

Larson’s run knocked Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin from the top spot. As Larson drove down pit road, a Fox Sports camera caught Hamlin playfully showing his dissatisfaction by emptying a cup of ice in the direction of the No. 42.

“This is No. 1 on my list of track I want to win,” Hamlin told Fox Sports. “It’s bitten me mentally and physically … definitely one I want to check off.”

Filling out the top five is Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Newman.

Daniel Suarez qualified 10th for his best career Cup start.

No Hendrick Motorsports entries will start in the top 10. Kasey Kahne was the top qualifier in 12th, followed by Chase Elliott.

Five cars did not make qualifying attempts, with one of them being by choice. Jimmie Johnson’s team elected not to make an attempt following his accident in practice. He will start 37th.

Joining Johnson at the back of the field will be Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Matt DiBenedetto and Gray Gaulding. All of their cars did not make it through inspection in time to qualifying.

Click here for qualifying results.

Jimmie Johnson’s team elects not to make qualifying run after accident in practice

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Following Jimmie Johnson’s accident in practice early Friday, Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 team chose not to qualify with a backup car at Auto Club Speedway.

Johnson, a six-time winner at Auto Club Speedway, will start 37th in Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

Four other cars, including those of Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne, will start in the back after they did not make qualifying attempts. Their cars failed to get through inspection in time. Rookie Gray Gaulding and Matt DiBenedetto also did not qualify because their cars failed to get through inspection.

Johnson explained his team’s decision.

“We had a tough practice session and mid-pack was probably going to be our goal anyway,” he said. “So, to take our lumps here, at a track that’s really wide with a lot of lanes, a long race; we’ll just take our lumps and get the car right where we can take advantage of the precious minutes that we have in Saturday’s practice session and go from there. Pit road is going to be a problem. We’re not going to have a great pick there. We’re definitely not in a position we want to be in, so we’d rather take the time now and make sure we get everything right and get this car right; and also kind of control our risk factor.”

With ACS being such a wide race track with plenty of passing opportunities, Johnson is not in as bad a position to start Sunday’s race as he would be at more narrow track.

Crew chief Chad Knaus told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang he wasn’t comfortable forcing Johnson to “hustle” to qualify a car he hadn’t practiced in.

Joey Logano completes sweep of Xfinity practices at Auto Club Speedway

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Joey Logano was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice session at Auto Club Speedway for the Service King 300.

Driving Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford, Logano put up a speed of 176.804 mph on his 19th of 35 laps in the session

The top five as made up of Erik Jones (176.744), Paul Menard (176.587), Brandon Jones (176.475) and Kyle Larson (176.039).

William Byron and Brennan Poole recorded the most laps in the session with 37 each.

Logan also had the best 10-lap average at 174.889 mph.

Click here for the full practice report.