All-Star: Denny Hamlin preview

No. 11 FedEx Racing Pit Crew Claims 2010 Pit Crew Challenge Title: Keeping up the performance that has led to them being regarded as one of the fastest, most consistent teams on pit road over the last three seasons, the No. 11 pit crew put on a ...

No. 11 FedEx Racing Pit Crew Claims 2010 Pit Crew Challenge Title: Keeping up the performance that has led to them being regarded as one of the fastest, most consistent teams on pit road over the last three seasons, the No. 11 pit crew put on a perfect performance Wednesday night in Charlotte to win the 2010 Pit Crew Challenge. The team dispatched the defending champion No. 31 team of Richard Childress Racing in the event's final round -- changing four tires, adding fuel (water) and pushing the car 40 yards in 23.132 seconds and without any penalties -- to take the title and, in addition to bragging rights, it means the No. 11 team will have the first selection for pit stalls in the Saturday's All-Star Race.

"It was a great performance by these guys and I am happy they get this recognition because I get to see them up close each week and I know how good they are," said Hamlin. "This is a team that has been together for a while and they keep pushing each other and improving. They are very consistent and that's what wins you competitions like this and, more importantly, it's what makes the difference during races. You need to be fast, and this team is, but you need to avoid the mistakes because that's often the difference between winning and losing. I am proud to have these guys on my side."

Hamlin at All-Star Weekend: This will be Hamlin's fifth appearance at NASCAR's All-Star Weekend and he'll compete in the All-Star Challenge by virtue of his win at Pocono in the summer of 2009. Last year Hamlin started at the back of the field after a transmission change but the combination of good strategy and a smart drive saw Hamlin work his way forward. By the time the race entered the ten-lap shootout, Hamlin ran in seventh but shot forward to claim fourth at the line. Hamlin led seven laps in the 2008 event and led the race in the final segment when his engine expired with only 14 laps to run. Hamlin made his first All-Star race appearance in 2007 and had the No. 11 FedEx machine running well before a lap 63 incident with Casey Mears cut the night short. As a rookie in the 2006 NEXTEL Open, Hamlin started second on the grid and led one lap before finishing fourth and missing a spot in the Nextel All-Star Challenge.

All-Star Chassis -- JGR 253 & 256: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 253 for the All-Star race this weekend. This car made one start in 2009, scoring a tenth-place finish at Michigan in August of last year. JGR 256 will serve as the backup -- it started four races in 2009 and posted three top-five finishes.


Pride not points - How do you approach this weekend? "Last season this race was good for us in terms of running well and coming close to winning, but it also left us in good shape as we headed into the 600. We felt like we learned some things during All-Star that directly translated over and that helped us. Of course, because of the nature of the All-Star race there is definitely a lot of pride at stake in this race. This race is a tradition in this sport and the fans have continued to embrace it over the years so it keeps growing and growing. I think everyone wants to add their name to the list of drivers who have won this because we all grew up watching this race. I know I did and it was a race that I never missed watching so to have the chance to participate has been cool, but to win it would be that much better. We had a chance to win this race two years ago - we were in the lead in that last segment when our engine went and it was a bad feeling to have that opportunity slip away. Just like racing each week for points, having one get away makes you want to come back even stronger. This race doesn't affect standings or the Chase or any of that but winning this race means a lot so you'll see the teams doing whatever they can to get that win."

What is unique about the All-Star Week events? "It's a fun week with some fun events both on and off the track and that's why the fans and teams enjoy it so much. I really like that this event, while still competitive for the teams, the crews and the over-the-wall guys, gives the teams a chance to stick close to home for a couple of weeks. You'll see a lot of friends and family around the track through the weekend and this event makes that possible -- it's a chance for the teams to spend some time at home before we start a long summer haul. On the track we know we'll be in for another tight finish but we are getting used to that this season - it seems like almost every race has had a late caution that has played a big part in deciding the race."

-source: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Casey Mears , Denny Hamlin
Teams Richard Childress Racing