Home Sweet Home: Following an off-weekend, the Series shifts to Richmond International Raceway (RIR) for Saturday’s 400-lap, 300-mile race. Hamlin, from nearby Chesterfield, Va., considers RIR his home track and is the most recent race winner at the facility. Last September, Hamlin started 14th and led 251 laps en route to victory lane, edging JGR teammate Kyle Busch. Busch is the two-time defending spring race winner at Richmond, and coupled with Hamlin’s first Richmond race win in the fall 2009 event, the duo has won the last four events at the three-quarter-mile track. Hamlin is making his 11th career Richmond start Saturday night, with top-10 finishes in half of his 10 trips to RIR. Despite only two wins, the 30-year-old has led more than 100 laps in a race four times at Richmond, including a career-high 381 (of 400) from the pole in the spring 2008 event before a cut tire relegated the team to a heartbreaking 24th-place finish. Hamlin’s first Richmond pole came in his second start at the track in the fall of 2006. In total, Hamlin has an average finish of 8.0 at RIR, has completed all but four laps (4,006 of 4,010) and has led 1,150 of the total laps (29 percent) at the track since his rookie season in 2006.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION – RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY: Do you always feel the excitement of racing at your home track? “It never goes away – it’s still the race I look forward to the most. For me, having my charity race as part of Richmond week makes it all that more special. Getting a couple wins here was really important to me and this team and we absolutely want to come back and do it again. We feel like this track is a place where we can run up front every time we come here and I know we all would be disappointed to come here and not perform at the level we expect to. This team could use a solid weekend, and I can’t think of a better track to come to for just that.”
What does it mean to host your charity event at Richmond this year? “Richmond was the first track I ever watched a race at when I was five years old, and all these years later to be able to move the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown there is a dream. The race has been really rewarding and it’s become a big part of what the Denny Hamlin Foundation does. I learned a lot from FedEx about the impact you can have in the community as I was starting out in the Cup Series, and have worked to make sure my foundation follows that model. To give back through this foundation has been really rewarding for me and it makes me proud to know that we can help raise money and that the money is going to a really good cause. We have a great driver lineup again this year, and will put on a great show for the fans.”