Cup start at Chicagoland and 169th career Cup start since making his debut in 2005. A year ago Hamlin and the team put together an excellent race, taking advantage of great pit stops and strong restarts to continue a mid-season surge that included...
Cup start at Chicagoland and 169th career Cup start since making his debut in 2005. A year ago Hamlin and the team put together an excellent race, taking advantage of great pit stops and strong restarts to continue a mid-season surge that included four top five finishes in five races. In 2008, Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team suffered through an entirely forgettable evening at Chicagoland Speedway last season when electrical issues forced the #11 Toyota to the garage less than 50 laps in to the event for repairs. The crew worked fast but Hamlin returned to the track four laps down and had little recourse but to run out the race and settle for a disappointing 40th-place finish. In 2007 Hamlin and the FedEx team, sitting second in the Cup points, unloaded a new car and race package at Chicago and simply couldn't find the handle on the way to a frustrating 17th place finish. In 2006, Hamlin was well on his way to a top-ten finish before a loose wheel forced him a lap down late in the race. Despite getting the lap back, he was unable to significantly improve his position and finished 14th on the day.
Chicagoland Chassis -- JGR 270 and 253: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 270 this weekend in Chicagoland. This car has a single start to date, a win at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season. JGR 253 will serve as the backup this weekend in Chicago -- it recorded at tenth-place finish at Michigan last season.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION -- Chicagoland:
What do you expect at Chicago this weekend?: "Chicago has been a bit of a struggle for us but I think we are turning the corner there. We've had electrical issues before and a loose wheel a few years ago -- but we came here last season and ran better than we had here before so you take that along with our improvement on the intermediate tracks and we feel like we should be pretty good coming back. We had a really strong car at Texas, Darlington and Michigan and we just keep taking big steps forward with our equipment at places where we've struggled in the past. I think we'll take a step forward here as well. It's a track I like to race and to have a strong car only increases that."
What are your thoughts on racing at Chicagoland?: "It's relatively flat and it seems to have lost a lot of grip there over the years for whatever reason. I like the racing at Chicago because you can move around, from the wall to the line and back, to find a place where your car is working. Any of the drivers will tell you they really like being able to search for that line to find that place where you can pass and make your car work. You work to get your car ready in practice and make it adjustable -- but as it gets cooler things definitely tend to change a lot and you have to be ready to find a new line and make the car work."
The team has struggled for a couple of weeks now, is a standard intermediate what you need to get back on track?: "It just might be. We definitely expected to run better at Sonoma and at Daytona but those races are also unpredictable. Not running well at New Hampshire was frustrating because that is a place where we've been really good in the past. Going to Chicagoland and then into the off week should be good for this team."