EXPRESS NOTES: New Hampshire Review: Suffering an ill-handling car, Denny Hamlin and the ...
New Hampshire Review: Suffering an ill-handling car, Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team endured an unusually trying day on their way to a 14th-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday. Hamlin started from the 20th spot on the grid, and struggled from the drop of the green to gain position. As the team worked through numerous chassis adjustments, Hamlin slowly gained position but was ultimately unable to crack the top-ten. The result sees Hamlin hold on to fourth place in points heading to Daytona this weekend.
Hamlin at Daytona International Speedway: This weekend will mark Hamlin's tenth Cup start at Daytona International and his 168th career Cup start. Earlier this year, Hamlin and team finished 17th in a Daytona 500 delayed significantly by track repairs. Hamlin and team ran well but the combination of older tires and the wild green, white, checkered finish kept the #11 FedEx Toyota from reaching the front. Last summer, Hamlin led 63 laps on his way to posting a best ever third-place finish. In the summer of 2008, Hamlin led six laps and showed the speed and handling necessary to contend for the win before late-race incidents on lap 136 and lap 158 relegated the FedEx team to a 26th-place finish - scant consolation considering the quality of the #11 FedEx Toyota. The team posted a best-ever finish in the 500 in 2008, when Hamlin led 32 laps and had one of the more dominant cars in the field. Unfortunately, contact suffered on pit road during a lap 120 stop required repair and adversely affected the handling on the #11 FedEx Camry. Despite making his way back into the pack for the finish, his position in the draft left him vulnerable to the string of incidents before the end and he settled for a 17th place finish. In July of 2007, Hamlin led ten laps early in the race before he found then teammate Tony Stewart in his rearview mirror on lap 15. The two made contact with each other resulting in substantial damage to both cars. After a significant amount of time was spent in the garage repairing the car, the #11 team was able to get Hamlin back on the track 60 laps down to the leaders and finished the race running 43rd. The #11 team posted a 17th-place finish in the summer of 2006 on a night when the team ran through myriad changes to help the handling on the #11 car, and Hamlin was able to avoid the incidents that would plague him in coming years.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION -- Daytona: Your Daytona results don't tell the story of how well this team has performed here do they?: "Not at all, and especially recently. Across the teams at JGR, all of us have improved over the past two plus years and we've seen huge improvements and now we go to places like Talladega and Daytona and feel like we can be dominant. Taking that dominant car and making it a race winning car is the hard part. So much at Daytona is out of your control so all we can do as a team is put the right car on the track, find help on the track, don't hurt yourself on pit road and hope for a little luck out there. Things will happen, there will be wrecks and those wrecks hardly ever include only one car so avoiding the wrecks as best you can is important.
How is your knee feeling?: "It's feeling better all the time. I am working hard and making a lot of progress with my physical therapy and it's allowing me to do more and more activity and that's been a good thing. I still have a ways to go but it's coming around and I think by the time we get to the end of this season, I will be even that much more comfortable. That's been the goal all along and I feel like I am on schedule if not ahead of it."