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Hamlin goes for three straight at Martinsville

October 25, 2013, Kenny Bruce,

Crafton looking to extend points lead some more

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Denny Hamlin began his attempt to win three consecutive Camping World Truck Series races at Martinsville Speedway on Friday by winning the first pole of his career in the series.

Hamlin, driving a Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota with funding from NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, edged series regular Johnny Sauter for the top spot by .002 second with his lap of 19.625 seconds (96.625 mph).

Saturday's Kroger 200 is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. ET start.


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"Even as happy as I was with the Cup pole, I honestly would have been pretty disappointed in our day if we didn't get the truck pole as well," Hamlin said. "Obviously we have pretty lofty expectations.

"This has been the greatest Friday I've had in a really long time."

Hamlin, who competes for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, had won the pole for Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 prior to capturing the truck series pole.

Sauter, last week's winner at Talladega, rookie Darrell Wallace Jr., four-time series champ Ron Hornaday Jr. and Ty Dillon will start second through fifth.

Points leader Matt Crafton will line up 13th. Crafton leads Dillon by 57 points.

"We're just going in trying to race as we did in the spring," Crafton said prior to qualifying. "Just going out and trying to win the race. I mean, yes, we're going to be a little bit smarter – we're not going to shoot three-wide that we might have done in the spring race at some point – but at the end of the day if we race hard and try to race up front and not points race, we should be fine."

Crafton finished second in the spring race here, trailing Sauter across the line.

Sauter, who opened the season with wins at Daytona and Martinsville before returning to Victory Lane last week, said his qualifying time was unexpected.

"I was surprised to be even be in the running for the pole," he said. " We don't typically qualify that great here and just always try to get a solid starting spot. We work on race trim stuff. … This is going to be an interesting race."

While Sunday's race is the primary focus for Hamlin, going for three in a row carries weight as well.

"I only get one shot at this a year and we made the best of it the last few years with Kyle's truck," he said. "Kyle is battling for an owner's championship as well. … He said he called in his best bullet to come run his truck for him. Hopefully, we get a win for him and gain some spots."

The No. 88 entry of Crafton, fielded by ThorSport Racing, leads the No. 51 of KBM by 27 points in the battle for the owner's title.


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