Denny Hamlin knows how to get around the Pocono Raceway. The number 11 has four wins at the tricky triangle with him as the pilot, including a sweep of the races his rookie season. So it probably should serve as no surprise that he won the pole for this weekend’s race with a record lap of 181.415 mph.

“It’s a tough balance, but we really just made the car a lot better,” said Hamlin. “Each session our balance got a little bit better and we were able to get a little bit more speed out of it.  That’s kind of what you want to do, play it enough in the first few rounds to get to the final round where you go all out.  Good job by our FedEx Ground Toyota team.  We didn’t test up here, we’re one of the only teams that didn’t test, but it’s good to at least have a good Friday.”

Kurt Busch will start alongside Hamlin in the front row on Sunday, followed by Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordan.

Kansas native Clint Bowyer will start back in the pack, rolling off 19th. But Hamlin expects some cars starting further back to be a factor in the race.

“Yeah, maybe not at the beginning for the first half, but certainly after,” said Hamlin. “Pit strategy really gets jumbled around here a lot to where it causes people to play strategies and it allows you to pass cars on pit road, not necessarily as much on the race track. “