Michigan: Denny Hamlin preview

Hamlin at Michigan International Speedway: This weekend will mark Hamlin's ninth start at Michigan and his 166th career start at the Cup level. A year ago, Hamlin posted a best-ever finish at the 2.0-mile track, driving a new car from JGR to an ...

Hamlin at Michigan International Speedway: This weekend will mark Hamlin's ninth start at Michigan and his 166th career start at the Cup level. A year ago, Hamlin posted a best-ever finish at the 2.0-mile track, driving a new car from JGR to an impressive third-place finish. In August of 2009, Hamlin led on one occasion for two laps on his way to his 11th top-ten finish on the season and second consecutive top-ten at Michigan. In August of 2008, a blown engine with six laps remaining made for an agonizing day for Hamlin and the #11 team. After starting from 37th place on the grid, Hamlin and the team worked through handling issues all afternoon but raced into the top-ten before his engine expired on lap 194. In June of 2008, a pit stop on lap 155 looked to have Hamlin well-positioned for a top-five finish but a late caution sent the race into extra laps and the #11 team was forced to pit for fuel and settle for a 14th-place finish. In June of 2007 the #11 FedEx team had a car capable of running in the top-five and challenging for the win at MIS but costly pit road mishaps on laps 37 and 114 left Hamlin off the lead lap and having to scrape for a frustrating 14th-place finish. In the fall of 2007, Hamlin started and finished in the top-ten and left the #11 team satisfied with their ever-improving performances on the 2.0-mile track. In the rain shortened 3M Performance 400 in June 2006, Hamlin had worked his way up from the 21st spot on the grid to 12th before the race was called due to rain.

Michigan Chassis -- JGR 253 & 256: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 253 this weekend in Michigan. This car has only one previous start, a tenth-place finish at Michigan in August of 2009. JGR 256 will serve as the backup this weekend.

HAMLIN CONVERSATION -- Michigan:

Four wins already this season -- that ties your best-ever season haul and we are only 14 races in: "I am excited about the start of this season for me and this team -- I don't think any of us would have guessed we'd come out of the gates as strong as we have knowing that we generally start a little slower and peak at the end. What we know is that we are still on that same schedule and we expect to get better and better as this season moves into the Chase. We know these win bonus points will help us later and we are learning a lot at these tracks -- figuring out what is working well and even when things are going good, where we can make changes that will make us better. I think there is a lot left to come from this team."

Is there a change in attitude?: "I don't know if I would say attitude but I do think it's a situation where we are working really good together as a team, we have confidence in each other and support each other and we are communicating better and better. If you look at who has been successful in our series over the past years you see driver and crew chief teams who are on the same page and communicating really good. Mike and I are always improving, always working hard to make sure we are getting the best out of each other and you see the results on the track."

You've said this is a track where you've improved as a driver and team every time you race here: "It's true, we are bringing better and better cars here and to be honest, our big track program is catching up to our short track program. Like Pocono, being successful at Michigan is being able to get back to the throttle as early as possible so you can take advantage of the long straights. My FedEx Toyota has been very good this season and I think we can go to a big motor place like Michigan and run with anyone. I think it will be an entertaining race. Michigan is so wide and you can move all over the track so I think it's possible you'll see restarts at Michigan similar to what we saw at Pocono last week."

-source: jgr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Denny Hamlin