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NASCAR 2012: Denny Hamlin Captures Pole For Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 in California

Denny Hamlin will start from the pole in Sunday's Auto Club 500 Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. It is Hamlin's first top-10 start of the 2012 season and the second time in 12 career starts at the Southern California racetrack that he has won the pole position. He also started on the front row at this race a year ago.

Hamlin beat out Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch and Mark Martin of Michael Waltrip Racing who will start out in the first three spots on the starting grid for the fifth Sprint Cup race of NASCAR's 2012 season. All three drivers will be in Toyota Camrys. This is Hamlin's 10th pole in his eight-year career driving in NASCAR's top racing series.

"Everyone had a different way of doing it (qualifying)," Hamlin said. "It seemed that there were some guys who were five lanes up and some who just worked their way down (on the track). We were one of the few cars that ran all the way on the bottom."

With two of the first three positions on the starting grid, Joe Gibbs is hoping he will be in good position to win for the first time at Auto Club Speedway. Fontana is the only active track where Gibbs has not won a NASCAR race.

Greg Biffle, who pilots the No. 16 car for Roush-Fenway Racing is the points leader after four events. Biffle owns a nine-point lead over Kevin Harvick and 12 points over teammate Matt Kenseth. Hamlin is in fifth place currently in the drivers' standings. Clint Bowyer of Emporia, Kan., who finished fourth last weekend at Bristol, is in eighth place in the standings, and Columbia, Mo.-native Carl Edwards is currently 15th, 50 points back of the leader.

Bowyer, who has a seat on the Michael Waltrip race team this season, will start 11th on Sunday at Fontana, alongside Edwards in the No. 99 Roush-Fenway Ford in the 12th spot at the start.

For more information on NASCAR and the 2012 Sprint Cup racing series.