Phoenix II: Denny Hamlin preview

EXPRESS NOTES: Hamlin, FedEx Racing Outlast Field for Second Place in Texas: After a frustrating Chase run, one seeming void of any luck at all, Denny Hamlin and the ...


Hamlin, FedEx Racing Outlast Field for Second Place in Texas: After a frustrating Chase run, one seeming void of any luck at all, Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team will feel like they finally got the result they deserved last Sunday. Executing a perfect fuel strategy, Hamlin and the FedEx team watched as the cars in front of them pulled off for fuel or ran out on the track, covering 64 laps before taking the checkered flag for an impressive second-place finish in the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. With Crew Chief Mike Ford reminding him to "save fuel -- keep saving fuel" over the final laps of the 334 lap race, Hamlin heeded the advice and, as the laps ticked off, Hamlin moved up through the standings as other drivers ran out of fuel. Only Hamlin and race winner Kurt Busch were able to make it to the finish on fuel from their final scheduled stops and the #11 Toyota, a car that ran just outside of the top-ten for most of the day finished in second. By virtue of the finish, Hamlin jumps from 11th to eighth place in the Sprint Cup standings heading to Phoenix this weekend.

Hamlin at Phoenix International Raceway: This weekend will mark Hamlin's ninth start at Phoenix International Raceway and his 150th career start at the Cup level. Despite not having a win at PIR, Hamlin and the #11 team have performed very well, posting three top-three finishes to date. Earlier this season, the #11 team rolled the dice on Saturday night at PIR, using pit road strategy to score an impressive sixth-place finish in the Subway Fresh Fit 500. With ten laps to go and the race under caution, Crew Chief Mike Ford called for two tires only and Hamlin lined up the #11 FedEx Toyota in fourth place for the restart before finishing sixth. Last fall, Hamlin continued a string of good runs at PIR -- a self-proclaimed favorite track -- by posting a fifth-place finish. In the spring race of 2008, Hamlin and the #11 team looked to have nailed their fuel strategy and ran in third place after their last stop on lap 296 only to watch the cars running in first and second stretch their fuel loads to the end. In the fall 2007 event, Hamlin suffered through an agonizing race that included two pit-road speeding penalties on his way to a 16th-place finish. Earlier that season, Hamlin led 70 laps and was well on his way to challenging for a win before a pit road speeding penalty sent him to the tail end of the field. Despite working his way back, he had to settle for a frustrating third-place finish. Hamlin made his debut at PIR in the fall of 2005 in only his sixth career Cup start and secured his first career pole before finishing 13th on the night.

FedEx Ground Atlantic Region "Along for the Ride" in Phoenix: FedEx Ground Atlantic Region will ride along with Denny when the he takes to the track at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend. The #11 FedEx Ground Toyota will feature "ATLC" on the wing caps to recognize the team for being selected as a top performing region in various customer service metrics

Phoenix Chassis -- JGR 263 & 246: The #11 team will unload JGR 256 this weekend at Phoenix. This is a brand new car from the JGR stable. 246 raced two weeks ago at California and is the car Hamlin drove to a win at Richmond in September.


You put up a great result last weekend at Texas -- how does it feel to have one go your way?: "We've had such a tough run of luck lately that to have a race go our way caught me by surprise a little. It was a great call by the team in Texas. We had struggled for long stretches of that race, had some issues on pit road that really cost us track position and then I got into the wall trying to push the car a bit. Really, in the end, some of those issues actually opened the door for us to make that fuel decision and then stretch our mileage because I didn't have any pressure. To see the other cars running out or pulling off it was clear we were going to make up a bunch of spots but to finish that race in second was awesome. We've been on the wrong side of that fuel game before and it's a terrible feeling. It was nice to have one go our way."

Two races to go -- Are you eager to put this season behind you?: "We definitely know the end is in sight, but we have high expectations for Phoenix and Homestead first. We want to go out on high note and carry that with us through the offseason. We are already talking about next season but still feel like we have unfinished business this season. Phoenix is one of my favorite tracks -- it has a totally unique layout and those are the tracks that we tend to excel on, in the same way we've always been good at Pocono. We always bring competitive cars here and the way the race generally shakes out you see a bunch of different strategies play out at the end. We know track position at Phoenix is important so we'll look to get up front, get back to our best on pit road and make sure we are within striking distance at the end."

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Denny Hamlin