Atlanta: Denny Hamlin preview

Hamlin, FedEx Racing Struggle in Desert -- Finish 19th in Las Vegas: It was another long, frustrating afternoon for Denny Hamlin and the ...

Hamlin, FedEx Racing Struggle in Desert -- Finish 19th in Las Vegas: It was another long, frustrating afternoon for Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team, as they fought an ill-handling car on the way to a 19th-place finish in the Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After struggling in qualifying and starting in 27th place, Hamlin fought a very loose car all afternoon and despite Mike Ford and the FedEx Ground crew making myriad changes, he was never able to gain significant track position over the 267 lap, 400-mile event. The result sees him drop to 22nd place in the Sprint Cup standings heading to Atlanta this weekend.

Hamlin at Atlanta: This weekend will mark Hamlin's tenth-career Cup start at Atlanta Motor Speedway and 155th-career Sprint Cup start. Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team put together a solid sixth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway last fall, leading on three occasions for 23 laps before taking the checkered flag in sixth to lock in a place in the 2009 Chase field. In the spring of 2009, Hamlin posted a 13th-place finish after running in the top-five for much of the day. However, with the laps winding down, he found himself with an extremely loose race car and slid back in the field from fifth to 13th over the final 50 laps. In the fall of 2008, Hamlin led 56 laps leading into the ninth caution of the day, but couldn't hold off the charge of Carl Edwards as the #99 passed on the restart. Hamlin broke loose under pressure from Jimmie Johnson on the final lap but held on to finish third. In the spring of 2008, Hamlin turned in a 15th-place finish after losing his power steering with more than 100 laps to run. Despite the loss of the mechanical aid, Hamlin gained five spots over the closing laps. During the fall race of 2007, Hamlin and the FedEx team fell victim to water that had collected in the fuel tank over the course of the event and it ultimately stalled the #11 while Hamlin brought the field to the green flag during a late race restart. The water, found in the tanks providing fuel to all of the competitors during the race, had displaced fuel in the tank of the #11 car and skewed the team's fuel calculations and left Hamlin to finish 24th. Perhaps Hamlin's best outing at AMS came in the spring of 2006 when the #11 was the fastest car on the track early in the race, leading four times for a total of 16 laps, before a loose wheel forced him off the lead lap and caused him to finish 31st. Hamlin's posted an impressive eighth-place finish as a rookie in the fall of 2006.

Atlanta Chassis -- JGR 253 and 246: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 253 this weekend in Atlanta. This car has one previous start on its record, a tenth-place finish last season at Michigan. Chassis 246 sat on the pole at Auto Club in the fall of 2009 and will serve as the backup this weekend.

FedEx Office Sales Team #7364 Along for the Ride in Atlanta: The #11 FedEx Office Toyota will carry the numbers #7364 on the B-posts for Sunday's race in recognition of the St. Louis/Tennessee/Indiana sales team. The 20-plus person team is being honored for outstanding sales performance and partnership throughout the FedEx Office network.

HAMLIN CONVERSATION -- Atlanta:

After a tough three-race stretch, is this a week when you can turn things around?: "It's funny to think of Atlanta as a place where you can come to turn momentum in your favor knowing how tricky this place can be but we've been strong here lately and I think anyone in this Series will tell you the best way to put frustrations on the racetrack behind you is to get back on the racetrack. This is another track where we've been close but just needed a little more to be there at the end. I have had some really good cars here in the past and I think we can come here and get back to running in the top-five again."

What's the key to success at Atlanta? "It's just really, really fast and you can find yourself in trouble in a hurry so you need a car that is obviously handling well but even more important is having a car that is adjustable. Our history at Atlanta has been one of being pretty good early in a race, having a car able to run the bottom, but then fighting it through the middle portion. It's a long race and handling characteristics change. It's just a matter of keeping ahead of it." It's taken some time to really figure this place out but we have good cars and I think it's just a matter of time before we put all of the pieces together. Handling seems to be the biggest issue at Atlanta. It's such a fast track, it has a lot of grip and the track changes a lot over the course of the race. It seems you end up battling your car and trying to find a place where your car works well. We'll have to respond the best we can to the changing conditions, and hopefully we can make the right adjustments to make sure we have the car at its best for the end.""

Three races into the season -- where does the #11 FedEx team stand?: "That first month of the season is a grind so I think we are all happy to have Daytona and the trip out west for two races behind us. It's good for everyone to get home, get back on a normal race schedule and that really starts now as we head to Atlanta. As far as on track I think we are just missing by a little but we are working hard and are focused -- the results will start coming."

-source: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin