Still, the decision was met with consternation from many drivers who have seen multiple lanes and the ability to pass disappear at other tracks that have undergone resurfacing projects.
Martin said he’s concerned that one lane along the bottom of the track will make it difficult to pass. That’s been the case at some other repaved tracks.
“It’s a new track now. I mean, it really is, and we’re going to have to learn as we go,” Martin said. “We can’t find out tomorrow in practice what the track is going to be like Sunday. It’s just not going to happen. This track is coming in very slowly.”
Hamlin qualified ninth after wrecking the car he intended to use for Sunday’s race when he clipped the wall entering Turn 1 near the start of testing on Thursday.
Hamlin wound up making two visits to the infield care center before he was cleared by medical staff to resume testing. He unloaded the car he used at Chicago, where he was in contention for the win, and was good enough to post a lap of 190.718.
“You always have a rebound time that you got to have to get your senses back. The trust in the car and everything is back,” Hamlin said. “It’s not the car we wanted to race originally, but it’s not too bad.”
Regan Smith will start 40th in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is missing his second straight race. Earnhardt pulled himself from the car after sustaining two concussions in a six-week span _ the first during a tire test at Kansas, the second during a massive wreck at Talladega.
Smith was seventh-fastest in practice but got sideways during his qualifying lap Friday.
AJ Allmendinger qualified 13th in his second race with Phoenix Racing. The team had been slated to use Smith for the final six races of the season after Kurt Busch left early to get a start on next year’s job with Furniture Row Racing.
Hendrick Motorsports wanted Smith to fill-in for Earnhardt, though, and Allmendinger got his first opportunity since his July suspension for failing a random drug test. He completed NASCAR’s recovery program and was reinstated in September.
Busch, meanwhile, qualified 29th for Furniture Row.
“This place is really fast right now, so when you kind of are in practice, you get that rhythm of going out there,” Allmendinger said. “We definitely have good speed and track position is going to be everything, so it’s the way that is going to play out.”