Pocono II: Denny Hamlin preview

Hamlin at Pocono Raceway: This week will mark Hamlin's tenth start at Pocono, his 172nd career Cup start, and a return to a track where he's won on four occasions. Already anointed the new master of Pocono by virtue of his three previous wins at...

Hamlin at Pocono Raceway: This week will mark Hamlin's tenth start at Pocono, his 172nd career Cup start, and a return to a track where he's won on four occasions. Already anointed the new master of Pocono by virtue of his three previous wins at the Pennsylvania track, Hamlin added a fourth win at the 2.5-mile track earlier this season by leading 88 laps and putting on a clinic through late cautions to take the checkered flag first. By lap five, Hamlin had the #11 FedEx Freight Camry out front, showing not only the strength of the car but also his supreme Pocono confidence. Through the middle stages of the race Hamlin fought a tight car but continued to lead laps, however it wasn't until the laps counted down that the pace of the race picked up tremendously. With fuel mileage playing a major role, the decision was made to bring Hamlin to pit road for fuel -- at the time sacrificing significant track position. Hamlin restarted 15th on lap 171 and put the FedEx Camry on display as he sliced through traffic, working across the multiple lines and picking up a position at nearly every turn. A final restart loomed for Hamlin on lap 200, and after agonizing over his preferred lane for the restart, he chose the inside and held off both Stewart and his teammate Busch for his fourth win of 2010. In August of 2009, Hamlin led six times for a race-high 91 laps on his way to an emotional win -- his fifth-career Sprint Cup triumph. In the first visit of 2009 to Pocono, the #11 suffered a fuel pump problem as the field took the green and roared toward turn one. The failure sent Hamlin immediately to the garage where the part was changed, but after returning to the track and experiecing a similar problem, Hamlin was forced back to the garage where the ensuing repairs put him 22 laps down to the leaders. Unable to make up the laps, Hamlin and the team ran out the race in 38th place. In August of 2008, Hamlin posted a 23rd-place finish, an anomaly when compared to Hamlin's prior average finish of 2.8. In June of 2008, the #11 team posted a third-place result at Pocono, marking a second consecutive third-place finish and the fifth time Hamlin has finished in the top-ten through six total starts. The June 2007 visit to Pocono also offered some drama as a rain shortened race forced the teams to gamble and guess on fuel and, though he might have had the best car, Hamlin wasn't able to race for the lead and finished sixth. In August of 2007 Hamlin suffered through some early brake trouble but still managed a third-place finish. Hamlin's first Pocono experience was marked by a memorable recovery from a lap-50 cut tire that forced Hamlin to spin the car on purpose before entering the tunnel turn. Facing substantial damage, the #11 FedEx crew took advantage of the long caution laps to make major repairs on pit road before sending Hamlin to work his way from 40th place all the way to the front to take the checkered flag. Returning only a month later, Hamlin led 151 laps to dominate the 500-mle race and claim a season sweep of Pocono as a Cup rookie.

Pocono Chassis -- JGR 279 and 267: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 279 this weekend in Pocono. JGR 267 will serve as the backup.

HAMLIN CONVERSATION -- Pocono Raceway:

You have your second-career two win streak going at Pocono -- think you can stretch this one to three consecutive?:"Way too tough to predict wins in this sport, it's just too competitive but I like coming here and this FedEx team always prepares really good cars for this track. Indy was frustrating for us, we really raced all day trying to get a spot back on the lead lap so I think we are excited to get here and put last weekend behind us. We are building really good cars right now as we look ahead and learning a lot. We want to come here, have a good weekend and keep our focus on a championship and performing at that level where we can compete each and every week. If that means win here, we'll take it."

Despite the struggles last weekend, you now sit third in points. Is that a comfortable position?: "I don't think you can ever get to comfortable knowing how just about anything can happen in this sport but we've been running pretty good this year and are pretty happy with our progress. We can't rest even though we are in a good spot, we need to push like everything is in doubt. We have some bonus points already that will help us later in the season but we know how good our competition is and know that every position or win we can grab this season is going to be necessary if we want to be running for a championship this season. We may try a few things here and there to see if we can find an advantage but the goal is to always win races -- that never changes."

You are running two series this weekend, is that something you are looking forward to?: "I am absolutely looking forward to running both races this weekend at Pocono. Obviously this Cup race is one I look forward to because we have been so strong here in the past and we look forward to getting back here and seeing if we can keep our momentum up, and even improve on our performances here. As far as the truck race, it should be a lot of fun. It's going to be a shootout given the distance and I really do like running the trucks because they are fun to drive and are much different than the Cup cars. I also have some friends in that series that I don't get to race against very often so it should be fun."

-source: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Denny Hamlin