Pocono in Review: In a 500 mile race that featured long delays for both rain and multi-car incidents, it was the last call by the FedEx Crew that opened the door for Denny Hamlin to drive a very fast FedEx Office Toyota into the top five as the...
Pocono in Review: In a 500 mile race that featured long delays for both rain and multi-car incidents, it was the last call by the FedEx Crew that opened the door for Denny Hamlin to drive a very fast FedEx Office Toyota into the top five as the laps counted down. Hamlin started the race in the third spot and went on to lead 19 laps before late contact with Tony Stewart shuffled him deeper in the field. When pit road opened on lap 170, Crew Chief Mike Ford opted for four tires, confident that Hamlin could make up the track position they would sacrifice for stopping as soon as the race went green. Ford was right, and Hamlin was determined, guiding the FedEx Office from 15th to fifth before the checkered flag waved. The result solidifies his third place standing in the Sprint Cup Series points race heading to Watkins Glen this weekend -- he sits 260 points behind current leader Kevin Harvick.
Hamlin at Watkins Glen: This will be Hamlin's fifth start at Watkins Glen in a Sprint Cup car and 173rd career Cup start. Hamlin has never started or finished outside of the top-ten at the famous road course. Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team posted a hard-fought tenth-place finish at Watkins Glen last season. Hamlin challenged for the lead early, holding the second spot from lap three to lap 19, but a pit road penalty dropped him back to restart 36th on lap 20. Despite the setback, Hamlin fought all the way back to post his tenth top-ten. In 2008, Hamlin fought handling issues throughout much of the 90-lap event but the team enacted a near perfect fuel strategy to claim eighth-place on the day and essentially lock Hamlin into a spot in the 2008 Chase for the Sprint Cup. In 2007, Hamlin started from the second spot on the grid and ran in the top-five for the majority of the day, battling Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart for position and, eventually, the win. A late-race spin by Gordon ultimately saw Stewart take the checkered flag with Hamlin finishing second. In his Cup debut at the Glen in 2006, Hamlin started and finished tenth at the 2.45-mile track. Despite being very competitive throughout the race, Hamlin fell victim to track position and was forced to restart deep in the field late in the race. Running as far back as 20th-place with less than thirty laps remaining, Hamlin pushed the #11 forward to grab a tenth-place finish on the final lap.
FedEx Freight Rochester (NY) Service Center Along for the Ride at The Glen: The #11 FedEx Freight Toyota will carry the letters RNY on the b-post this weekend at Watkins Glen in recognition of the FedEx Freight team located in Rochester (NY). The Rochester team continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to achieving "People Service Profit" initiatives. During the past fiscal year, Rochester was one of only a few national service centers to meet certain operational metrics which earned them the Compass Excellence award for FY2010.
Watkins Glen Chassis -- JGR 248 and 208: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 248 this weekend in Watkins Glen. This will be a first road course start for a car that has three previous wins on its record. JGR 208 will serve as the backup this weekend. It has been on backup duty both at Watkins Glen and Sonoma during the 2009 season.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION -- Watkins Glen International:
The second of two road-course stops this season -- how does Watkins Glen compare to Infineon?: "The first thing that jumps out is the fact that, compared to Sonoma, the Glen is a faster course. You need to be smart with the brakes, especially running down into turn one where you have your main opportunity for passing, and it's a place where you are carrying a bunch of speed. You are working to get the car slowed down and trying to turn as all of that weight is shifting to the front of the car under braking. Getting that brake balance right is really important. At the Glen you are right on the throttle off the turns where at Sonoma it seems you are always waiting, searching for grip and have to be a little more cautious. Like Sonoma or any road course, you are also dealing with fuel strategy and that is always going to be a big factor. You'll see guys coming in right away to take fuel to set themselves up for the end, while others might choose to wait. So much is determined by where you are when the cautions come out. You do what you can to make the right decision for your car and your team, to put yourself in the best possible situation, but you can't control what the other 42 cars are doing out there. The Glen is still really technical -- you need to be consistent and smooth because there are lots of ways to get in trouble, or throw off your momentum and you need that so you are in position should you have a chance to pass."
You said after Pocono that you feel you need to win a race before the Chase to put yourself in the best position: "For sure every time we can get bonus points it is going to help so we know we need to go out and win races where and when we can. Pocono was a good opportunity knowing we've been good there in the past but we were just a little off all day. We are happy where we are, we've had a good season but we know if we want to take the next step and really contend that the bonus points will make a big difference. It's not a matter of risking everything for a win but we have some good tracks for us ahead and it would help to add a win to our total looking ahead to the Chase."