Hamlin, FedEx Racing Eighth at Auto Club: Denny Hamlin marched forward from the back of the field to claim an eighth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway last weekend and keep his Championship hopes very much alive through four Chase for the Sprint...
Hamlin, FedEx Racing Eighth at Auto Club: Denny Hamlin marched forward from the back of the field to claim an eighth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway last weekend and keep his Championship hopes very much alive through four Chase for the Sprint Cup races. Hamlin battled into the top-ten by the halfway point of the race and looked poised to challenge for the win before late restarts shuffled him back ahead of taking the checkered flag in eighth. Hamlin and team head home to Charlotte trailing current points leader Jimmie Johnson by 36 points.
Charlotte Chassis -- JGR 279 and 288: The team will unload JGR 279 at Charlotte this weekend. This car recorded a ninth-place finish at Dover two weeks ago. Chassis JGR 288 will serve as the backup.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION -- Charlotte:
You have talked a lot about the importance of staying in the middle of the fight through the first half of the Chase, are you comfortable with your position?: "We knew we that we couldn't beat ourselves through these first races and we haven't so we feel pretty good. We would have liked better finishes at a couple of tracks and to be in the lead in points but we're in good shape heading to some tracks where we think we'll be competitive. We just want to be racing our races and not worrying about anyone else -- if we can do that, it gives us our best chance of success."
What has experience here at Charlotte, both in the 600 and in the fall race, taught you?: "For one it really helps to qualify good here. We always feel good about our equipment here but we've had some cases where we've been caught in traffic and had contact or something happen that has hurt us early. And then we just can't beat ourselves at this track. We've been really good here but we need to make the end and that means good changes, good stops and a smart drive by me."
A year ago you had one of the dominant cars before being knocked out of the race -- is this a place you've improved as much as any other track?: "I would say it is. This is a place I struggled with early on but a place where I have really benefitted from Kyle (Busch). Everyone knows how strong he is on these types of tracks and he's shared a lot of information with me -- I know it's made me better here and with the improvement in our intermediate program it means we can come to big tracks like this and be right there with any car."