DENNY HAMLIN — #11 FEDEX FREIGHT TOYOTA CAMRY
Dover Recap: Denny Hamlin battled an ill-handling race car throughout last Sunday’s race and finished 18th at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in Round 3 of the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Hamlin and crew chief Mike Ford were never able to bring the #11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry to life, as a tight condition kept the 30-year-old driver from competing with the frontrunners in the 400-lap event at the ‘Monster Mile’ won by Kurt Busch. Hamlin started 11th and quickly worked into the top-five by the competition caution due to overnight rain on Lap 40. Varying pit strategies moved the #11 machine outside the top-10 as some teams elected for just two tires, and Hamlin was never able to regain the track position or handling to make a charge. The finish kept Hamlin 12th in the Chase standings after three of 10 playoff races, 68 points behind new leader Kevin Harvick.
Kansas Preview: The Series shifts to Kansas Speedway for the fourth race of the 2011 Chase on Sunday afternoon. Kansas is the site of Hamlin’s first Cup Series start in 2005. Hamlin has two top-five finishes in his last three starts at the 1.5-mile oval, including a career-best third place result at the track earlier this year. In that June race, the FedEx Racing team played the fuel strategy game to perfection. Ford called Hamlin to pit road under caution with 111 laps to go — giving up third position — to make adjustments on the #11 Toyota and get inside the fuel window to make it the distance with just one more stop. Falling back to 21st in the running order, Hamlin charged through the field to get back up near the top-10. As the race stayed green and the front-running cars were forced to pit road for fuel with around 10 laps to go, Hamlin moved up to second. Leader Brad Keselowski was able to stretch his fuel to the end for the victory, and Hamlin’s tight car wouldn’t allow him to hold off Dale Earnhardt Jr. for runner-up.
Race to Prepare: Hamlin, FedEx and the American Red Cross will team up to teach school children the importance of disaster preparedness and help build kits to be used in the case of weather-related disasters on Thursday at Mark Twain Elementary School in Kansas City, Kan.
Fort Worth Along for the Ride in Kansas: The FedEx Freight service center in Fort Worth won the “People Service Profit (PSP)” Compass Excellence Award, and will be recognized with its “FTW” code letters on the b-post of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota this weekend.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION – Kansas Speedway:
How do you feel about heading back to Kansas?
“I’m looking forward to it. We ran really strong in the Kansas race in the spring and really 1.5-mile tracks in general have been good to us here lately as far as our performance. We look forward to going back to them. It’s the normal type races of what we have during the season and stuff that we’ve worked on will hopefully apply to those race tracks.”
How do you help the local communities with the ‘Race to Prepare’ program?
“What we’ve been doing with those events is going into different places where kids go for recreation and while we have some fun with them, we try to teach them how to prepare for disasters really strike that area the most, whether that’s floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and things like that. Obviously we’ve seen what natural disasters have happened over these last six months or so that anything is possible. We’re just trying to inform these kids of what they can learn with their parents as far as getting prepared for what unforeseeable might happen.”
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.