EXPRESS NOTES: Watkins Glen in Review: Denny Hamlin piloted the ...
Watkins Glen in Review: Denny Hamlin piloted the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota to a frustrating and uncharacteristic 37th place finish last week on the road course at Watkins Glen. Hamlin had not previously finished outside of the top-ten at The Glen and appeared to be on his way to another good finish before he was unable to avoid the spinning #48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson with 20 laps remaining. The contact resulted in heavy damage to the front end of the #11 Toyota and it was determined to be too great to fix. Hamlin climbed from the car to record his first DNF of the season and the result drops him from third to sixth in the Sprint Cup standings heading to Michigan this weekend.
Michigan Chassis -- JGR 253 and 267: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 253 this weekend in Michigan. This car scored a tenth-place finish at Michigan in August of 2009. JGR 267 will serve in backup duty.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION -- Michigan International Speedway:
Michigan was a track that you used to fear but a place where this team has made huge gains, can you speak to that?: "Absolutely, this is a track where we never ran very well early in my career, we struggled and had some bad luck. It was also a combination of my comfort level and just not being able to get the car where we needed it. I think it was June of last season that we came here with a new car and a new set up and it clicked. We were fast off the truck and finished third and it was a turning point for us in a lot of ways. We came back in August and ran in the top ten and then really hit on it when we came back this year and dominated a race probably as much as I ever have. It was a great day for us so that definitely gives us confidence coming back to a track."
Is making a big gain like that a factor of keying on a specific type of track and putting time and resources into it?: "For sure this #11 team and everyone at JGR made an effort to improve our intermediate program and we've seen the results this season. A lot of time and effort went into that process and the credit goes to everyone at JGR. You do all that work but you are doing it in addition to keeping up the other parts of the program too, this sport is too competitive to rest anywhere. Now we feel like we are no longer just a short track team, we feel like we can run at the front everywhere. With that comes a lot of confidence in the driver's seat also."
A tough weekend at The Glen leads you into a stretch of good tracks leading up to the Chase -- what are your expectations?: It was a really tough way to end last weekend. We had a good car. We weren't going to get to the front and challenge for the lead but we were going have a decent finish so it's frustrating to end up out of the race like that. I didn't see the reason to race like that there and when the #48 went around there was no place to go. We have some good chances to win races left and that is what you want to do heading into the Chase. We have good cars and some new stuff coming soon so we feel we can go to the remaining tracks and be really competitive."