DENNY HAMLIN — #11 FEDEX FREIGHT TOYOTA CAMRY
Kentucky Recap: Denny Hamlin finished 11th in Saturday’s inaugural Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, a good result for the FedEx Racing team considering a post-practice engine change and last-place starting position. Hamlin battled throughout the 267-lap event on the 1.5-mile oval, working his way up the field in the early going as crew chief Mike Ford called for some wedge adjustments to dial in the #11 Toyota. Moving into the top-15 by the race’s midpoint, Ford called Hamlin to pit road under caution on Lap 139 for fuel and more adjustments, and as a result of the ensuing green flag run, the #11 inherited the lead on Lap 194 and led for five circuits before its next stop for service. Hamlin cycled back through in 10th place, and made his final stop with 16 laps remaining. The race’s final caution flag waved on Lap 263 to set up a ‘green-white-checkered’ finish, with Hamlin crossing the stripe in 11th behind winner — and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate — Kyle Busch. The finish moved Hamlin up one spot to 10th in the NASCAR standings following Kentucky, 95 points behind new leader Busch at the halfway mark of the 2011 season (18 of 36), and with eight races to go before the Chase cutoff.
New Hampshire Preview: Hamlin is making his 11th Cup Series start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) on Sunday. The 30-year-old Virginia native has one victory (summer 2007) and seven top-10 results in 10 races at the ‘Magic Mile,’ never finishing worse than 15th. In his win, Hamlin started 11th and led the final 45 laps (46 in total) to hold off Jeff Gordon en route to victory lane. Hamlin was runner-up to race winner Clint Bowyer when the Series last visited Loudon, N.H., last October, to open the 2010 Chase. Hamlin endured an unusually trying day in last summer’s race at New Hampshire, finishing 14th after numerous chassis adjustments during the event couldn’t bring the #11 FedEx Toyota to life. Hamlin’s 7.6 average finish at NHMS is tops among active drivers, and his 100.5 driver rating is fourth-best at the track, trailing only Tony Stewart, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
New Hampshire District Along for the Ride in Loudon: The FedEx Freight team covering most of New Hampshire currently leads the Hartford district in many areas, and will be recognized with its “BNH” code letters on the b-post of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota this weekend.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION – NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY:
How did the first half of this season compare to others in your career?
“I think it’s been relatively normal. It seems like first-time winners are always on superspeedways, especially since it’s kind of up for grabs, and you find different guys that get in the win column there. And, obviously, the fuel mileage races. All that stuff that races are starting to be nowadays — it opens it up to a lot of different guys being able to win. So, I think that it’s relatively normal in that sense. Even though that’s the case, it is good to see we have three new winners in our series, and two or three that are right there on the cusp of getting their first win. It looks like it’s starting to be more competitive now than it ever has been.”
What are your feelings on New Hampshire Motor Speedway?
“It is a great track and a place that has been good for this team in the past. We seem to run a little better here in the summer than we do in the fall so we’ll be trying to run as well as we have here in past summers but also take something with us to learn from. This track is faster than you would think so you need horsepower to take advantage of the long straights, but getting through, and off, the corner is where you win or lose at New Hampshire. It’s definitely a little bit different than any other track we go to because it almost seems like it’s banked in the other direction on the bottom. But you can go way up high or run on the bottom so there are some options for you to find a fast line. I like the tracks that demand you to feel your way through the corner and New Hampshire is one of those tracks. You need to find that rhythm, hit your marks getting into the corner so you can roll through the center and get back on the gas as soon as possible for the next straight. New Hampshire can be a tricky place to pass so we’ll be looking to qualify close to the front because that goes a long way at this track. We know we need to be running in the top-five or top-ten all day to be in position at the end.”
2011 FEDEX RACING – TEAM ROSTER
Crew Chief: Mike Ford – Morristown, Tenn. Front Tire Changer: Nick Krizmanich – Kenosha, Wis.
Car Chief: Chris “Spider” Gillin – Smithtown, N.Y. Front Tire Carrier: Brandon Pegram – Statesville, N.C.
Engineer: Mike Wheeler – Southholt, N.Y. Rear Tire Changer: Mike Hicks – Salisbury, N.C.
Shocks: Drew Bible – Coldwater, Mich. Rear Tire Carrier: Heath Cherry – Belmont, N.C.
Tire Specialist: Patrick Mullen – Brick, N.J. Jackman: Nate Bolling – Swanton, Ohio
Engine Tuner: Chris Woodward – Franklin, N.H. Gas Man: Scott Wood – Liberty, S.C.
Mechanic: Rick Bray – Placerville, Calif. Pit Crew Coordinator: Paul Alepa – Vienna, Va.
Mechanic: John Furino – Long Island, N.Y. JGR Athletic Director: Michael Lepp – Charlotte, N.C.
Spotter: Curtis Markham – Fredericksburg, Va.
Hauler Driver: Jerry Hess – Lancaster, Pa.
Hauler Driver: Frank Hodel – Blythe, Calif.