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Hamlin puts Dover demons in the past

Published September 29, 2012 8:57 pm

NASCAR • After struggles on concrete oval, Hamlin wins pole.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dover, Del. • Could it really be true love between Denny Hamlin and Dover?

So far, it's at least a crush.

His performance Sunday will really determine the fate of this relationship.

Trying his best to adjust his approach toward his least favorite track, Hamlin's reignited courtship 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 driven 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.

Nationwide Series • Joey Logano romped his way to a season sweep at Dover. Logano dominated on the concrete Saturday to win the Nationwide Series race. He led 184 of the 200 laps in the No. 18 Toyota and raced to his series-leading seventh victory of the season. —

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

P Sunday, 11 a.m.

TV • ESPN