DOVER, Del. — Could it really be true love between Denny Hamlin and Dover?
So far, it’s at least a crush.
His performance today will determine the fate of this relationship.
Trying his best to adjust his approach toward his least favorite track, Hamlin’s produced fantastic results Saturday when he turned a lap of 159.299 mph to win the pole at Dover International Speedway.
Hamlin has been open in his disdain for the 1-mile concrete oval and knew he’d have to conquer his Dover demons to keep his bid for his first career Cup championship rolling along.
Hamlin, third in the points standings, turned to a sports psychologist for advice. The message for Hamlin was this: “Let your challenge for the week be to fall in love with this track.”
Hamlin says the good karma, and a great No. 11 Toyota, all played a part in the turnaround.
“I think that right now we have everything rolling,” Hamlin said. “That part of it is giving me a ton of confidence.”
Hamlin is six points behind Brad Keselowski and seven points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson starts 11th as he chases history at Dover. He raced his way into the track’s history books in June with his seventh win on the concrete, matching the mark held by Hall of Fame drivers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison.
Dover has traditionally given Hamlin fits. He has an average finish of 20.5 in 13 career starts at Dover. He finished 36th or worse during a four-race stretch from 2007 to 2009.
On Saturday, he even talked about winning.
“We’ve got a car that’s very capable of staying in the front and hopefully we’ll have a shot to win,” Hamlin said.
NATIONWIDE SERIES: Joey Logano dominated on the concrete to win the Nationwide Series race at Dover International Speedway.
Logano raced to his series-leading 16th victory of the season Saturday.
Paul Menard was second, followed by Michael Annett, points leader Elliott Sadler and Kyle Busch.
Logano swept the Dover races this season.
“My monster trophy from last time was lonely and needed a friend,” Logano said. “I’m glad I was able to get one for him.”
Darrell Wallace Jr. finished 12th after winning the pole earlier Saturday. He is the first black driver to win a pole in the Nationwide Series.
TRUCKS: In Las Vegas, Nelson Piquet Jr. passed Matt Crafton on the final lap for second victory of his Truck Series career.
Crafton finished second, with pole-sitter Joey Coulter third. Brendan Gaughan and Todd Bodine rounded out the top five.
James Buescher finished sixth, followed by Cale Gale, Timothy Peters, David Mayhew and Ty Dillon.