DENNY HAMLIN — #11 FEDEX FREIGHT TOYOTA CAMRY
Watkins Glen Recap: A promising start to Monday’s rain-postponed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International turned scary on Lap 66, as Denny Hamlin walked away from a head-on collision into the retaining wall outside the first turn. Hamlin started 42nd in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota after a qualifying spin on Saturday, but a fast race car and perfect fuel strategy put him on the cusp of the top-10 for the final third of the 92-lap event, won by Marcos Ambrose. Good on gas for the remainder of the event, Hamlin was primed for a top-five result. However, an issue on the #11 machine heading down the front straightaway prohibited Hamlin’s ability to slow down for the first turn, resulting in a spectacular shunt into the tire barrier. Hamlin was transported to the infield care center, examined and released. The finish dropped Hamlin one spot to 12th in the NASCAR point standings following Watkins Glen, 126 points behind leader — and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate — Kyle Busch. He still holds one of the two Chase “wild card” spots with four regular season races remaining.
Michigan Preview: The Sprint Cup Series heads back to Michigan International Speedway this weekend for the second of two 400-mile races on the two-mile track in 2011. Hamlin was victorious in the June 19 event at Michigan, using a quick two-tire stop under the final caution to take the lead and hold off Matt Kenseth over the final eight laps en route to victory lane. Hamlin started 10th in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota for the 200-lap event on the two-mile track, but couldn’t find the proper balance in the car for much of the race. Running in the back half of the top-10 as the laps dwindled, Hamlin moved up spots while cars in front of him were forced to pit road for fuel with less than 50 laps to go. Hamlin got up to fourth before a caution on Lap 160, when everyone came back in for fresh tires. The FedEx crew held serve, and Hamlin climbed two spots to second on the restart. Trailing Carl Edwards and conserving fuel to make it to the end, an incident on Lap 191 bunched the field again, and the FedEx crew got Hamlin out first, the deciding move of the race. It was Hamlin’s second career victory at Michigan, also winning the June event in 2009. Hamlin has a streak of five-straight top-10 finishes at the track heading into Sunday’s race, and owns seven top-10 results in 11 starts at Michigan. He finished second to Kevin Harvick in the August event one year ago.
North Central Ohio Along for the Ride in Michigan: The FedEx Freight district covering north central Ohio will be recognized with its “MFD” code letters on the b-post of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota this weekend.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION – Michigan International Speedway:
What is team’s outlook heading into the final four races before the Chase?
“We’ve got four races to get back to trying to be competitive and consistent during a full course of a race. Obviously, we have shown a lot of speed over the last few weeks, but just not the ability to finish as well as what we have run so we’ve got to continue to work on that to first of all be a part of the Chase, and then if we are, to be competitive in there.”
How do you feel after the big hit at Watkins Glen?
“I feel better than I thought I would. That was a big hit. The only thing really maybe harder was the Talladega one I had when I had the concussion a couple years ago. That was about the worst. (Watkins Glen) was just terrifying because you know there’s nothing you can do and you’re headed straight for the fence. That was the scariest I’ve been in my car
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.