Martinsville: Denny Hamlin preview

Tire Woes Continue at Bristol - Hamlin, FedEx Racing Finish 19th: Denny Hamlin and the ...

Tire Woes Continue at Bristol - Hamlin, FedEx Racing Finish 19th: Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Express team started Sunday's Food City 500 with great optimism that the 2010 season was going to finally turn around for them -- and they had good reason to believe that it would start at Bristol. Unfortunately, the combination of an ill-handling car and a cut tire on lap 117 that forced Hamlin into the wall and left the #11 FedEx Express Camry with significant damage proved too much to overcome. Hamlin persevered and through a combination of smart driving and impressive work in the #11 pit box, brought the car home in 19th place on the day. The result sees Hamlin climb to 19th in the Sprint Cup Series points heading to Martinsville this weekend.

FedEx Racing and March of Dimes Team up for Babies: Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs and representatives from FedEx Office and the March of Dimes will unveil a special #11 March of Dimes/FedEx Office Toyota on Thursday, March 25 at the Joe Gibbs Racing shop in Huntersville. The car will run at Phoenix International Raceway in effort to raise awareness for the March of Dimes and March for Babies fundraising walks. The unveiling event starts at 8:30 a.m.

Hamlin at Martinsville Speedway: This weekend will mark Hamlin's tenth career Sprint Cup start at Martinsville Speedway and he returns to southern Virginia having won the last time he visited his home state track. Thanks to a great drive and perfect race strategy last fall, Hamlin worked the #11 FedEx Toyota to the front and left perennial Martinsville contender Johnson chasing him, attempting to close the gap over the final 137 laps and though three late-race restarts. However, he could only get as close as the bumper of the #11 as Hamlin fended off the challenge to take the checkered flag. The win marked a second visit to Martinsville Speedway's Victory Lane for the #11 team. Hamlin led a race-high 296 laps in March of 2009 and, after grabbing the lead from Jimmie Johnson on lap 456, was well-positioned to claim a second Grandfather clock. However, two consecutive cautions tightened the field and Johnson worked his way to Hamlin's bumper as the laps counted down. On lap 485, Johnson made contact with Hamlin, forcing the #11 FedEx Freight Camry up the track and allowing the #48 Chevrolet to sneak by on the inside. Hamlin had little recourse but to finish the race in second place. In March of 2008 Hamlin led 82 laps and held off a furious charge from Jeff Gordon to claim his sole win of the season and the fourth win of his Cup career. In the fall of 2008, Hamlin and the #11 team fought handling issues but managed an impressive fifth-place finish. In 2007, Hamlin sat on the pole for the spring race and led 125 laps before taking third place and then posted a sixth place finish in the 2007 Chase race. Hamlin has only finished out of the top-10 once at Martinsville -- a 41st place finish in the spring event in 2006.

Martinsville Chassis -- JGR 267 and 246: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 267 this weekend in Martinsville. This is a new car from Joe Gibbs Racing. Chassis 246 sat on the pole at Auto Club in the fall of 2009 and will serve as the backup this weekend. FedEx Freight Center GBO Along for the Ride in Martinsville: The #11 FedEx Office Toyota will carry the letters GBO on the B-posts for Sunday's race in recognition of the Greensboro FedEx Freight service center. GBO was named service center of the year in the South East division and continues to lead the Charlotte region in overall daily performance measurements -- including costumer feedback, efficiency, and performance metrics.

HAMLIN CONVERSATION -- Martinsville:

Bristol was another frustrating race for you and the team -- can you move past it?: "It was frustrating -- very frustrating -- but we already have moved past it. The good news is that we are running better. We've had some bad luck and that has really hurt us but we ran good at Atlanta before the tire problem. We weren't as good at Bristol but the car was coming around before the tire went and that caused a lot of damage to the car. If you are running terrible and you have bad luck, then we may be more concerned. To have bad luck take away from good performance is frustrating but we still know what we are capable of. We go to Charlotte this week for an important test that can help us as we look forward to a stretch of races where feel we can improve on past performances and remind everyone that we are still a team to beat."

Martinsville is a special place for you and this team -- is it familiarity? Past success?: "I have turned more laps here than any other track dating back to running Late Models here so there is a comfort factor and a familiaritiy that comes with time on the track. Having success here is also important -- we expect to come here and be competitive and both Mike (Ford) and I know what it takes for this team to be good here. We know where we want to start from when we unload and then work hard in practice on each little detail to get the car as close to perfect as we can, taking into account everything we know about racing here, and racing for wins here." How is your NCAA Bracket looking?: "Not good, not good at all, but the games have been good to watch and the tournament has had some really good upsets and some really good games. That is what makes it so popular. Lots of good games this weekend -- I am going to start repicking games round by round now."

-source: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing