Denny Hamlin goes to rear; Martin paces final practice

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Denny Hamlin will have to start from the back of the field in Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway.

Hamlin, who is the defending champion of the Phoenix spring race, and his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team elected to change the engine on his Toyota Camry. He had qualified eighth for tomorrow’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k.

SPEED Channel’s Bob Dillner tweeted word from Toyota Racing Development that Hamlin had felt a vibration during today’s first practice session and that it had returned after efforts to fix the problem.

Hamlin’s issues continues what has been a problematic couple of weeks for Toyota motors.

TRD engines for Hamlin’s two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, suffered terminal issues during last Sunday’s Daytona 500. Also, Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Michael Waltrip and Martin Truex Jr. were forced to nurse their cars home at Daytona due to problems with their own TRD powerplants.

Following the engine change, Hamlin posted the 15th-fastest lap of Sprint Cup final practice, which was paced by polesitter Mark Martin. Martin, who also led this morning’s first practice session, posted a hot lap of 134.248 miles per hour in his No. 55 MWR Camry and appears to have the fastest ride this weekend at PIR.

Three of the top 5 times in final practice were posted by Toyota drivers: Martin at the top, then Kyle Busch with the second-fastest lap (133.904 mph), and Clint Bowyer with the fifth-fastest lap (133.526 mph). Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards were third and fourth-quickest, respectively.