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Published: Sunday, 7/29/2012

Hamlin grabs Brickyard 400 pole

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Denny Hamlin drives out of the first turn during practice for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Saturday. Denny Hamlin drives out of the first turn during practice for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Saturday.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Carl Edwards qualified second and Joey Logano third for today's Brickyard 400, unfamiliar territory for both.

Edwards has raced seven times at Indy, but started in the top 10 just twice, with a best start of ninth. He finished second in 2008, seventh in 2010, and ninth in 2006.

Denny Hamlin won the pole on Saturday afternoon.

When asked about the importance of track position at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Edwards laughed.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't think I've ever qualified well here until now. Seems like it would help, though."

Logano offered similar thoughts. He has three starts at the Speedway: 20th last year, 34th in 2010, and 18th in 2009.

"I've blown up in practice here twice and had to start in the back, and I know it's really, really hard and takes all day to get up there," he said. "So starting towards the front is going to be -- I think it's more important here probably than anywhere we go."

MONTOYA'S LUCK: Juan Pablo Montoya has had some really bad luck at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He hopes to change that this year.

Last year, he ran as high as third with 40 laps to go but had to make a fuel stop, got caught in traffic, and finished 28th.

Two years ago, he led a race-high 86 laps before taking four tires instead of two during a late caution. The move dropped him from first to seventh. He struggled on the restart and eventually crashed and finished 32nd.

Three years ago, he led 116 laps and built a five-second lead over the competition before getting flagged for speeding on the final pit stop. He finished 11th.

In the five races he has had at Indianapolis, he has led 25 percent of the laps but has no wins to show for it.

He qualified 12th for today's race.

EARNHARDT'S CHANCES: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will have a tough hill to climb if he is to win his first Brickyard.

He qualified 20th, next to Mark Martin.

"We liked the speed the car has," he said. "We went into qualifying trim and really didn't put down any good laps that I was happy with for some reason. We'll evaluate that and move forward. But I think the car's got some good speed in race trim. Just hopefully, we'll have a good start and work on the car, and work hard [today] and see where we end up."

At least he doesn't have the pressure of the long losing streak. He dropped 143 consecutive races before winning at Michigan.

Since the win, he has finished 23rd at Sonoma, fourth at Kentucky, 16th at Daytona, and fourth at Loudon.

DOUBLE AT INDY? Sam Hornish, Jr., could become the first driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.

Hornish won the Indy 500 in 2006 with a classic pass against Marco Andretti on the final straightaway.

His chances of winning today don't appear good as he qualified 24th. He's only driven in three races this season, with a best finish of eighth in Daytona. He hasn't participated much of the season, though he has competed in the last two Sprint Cup events.

He's only involved this time because his teammate, A.J. Allmendinger, has been suspended after testing positive for amphetamine.



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