Talladega II: Denny Hamlin preview

Hamlin, FedEx Racing Marvelous at Martinsville: Denny Hamlin freely admitted that, if needed to win, he would return the bump from Jimmie Johnson that took away his shot at victory in the spring visit to Martinsville Speedway. Thanks to a great...

Hamlin, FedEx Racing Marvelous at Martinsville: Denny Hamlin freely admitted that, if needed to win, he would return the bump from Jimmie Johnson that took away his shot at victory in the spring visit to Martinsville Speedway. Thanks to a great drive and perfect race strategy on Sunday afternoon, he simply didn't need to. Hamlin worked the #11 FedEx Toyota to the front and left Johnson chasing him, attempting to close the gap over the final 137 laps and though three late-race restarts. However, he could only get as far as the bumper of the #11 as Hamlin fended off the challenge to take the checkered flag. The win marks a second visit to Martinsville Speedway's Victory Lane for the #11 team and career-best third win for the season for Hamlin. With the Chase for the Sprint Cup out of reach on the heels of struggles at California and Charlotte, Sunday's win serves as both consolation and inspiration for Hamlin and the FedEx Racing program. Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team earned the maximum points available by winning the race and leading a race-high 206 laps and Hamlin climbs from 11th to ninth in the Chase standings. He currently sits 352 points behind Johnson in first and 152 points behind Juan Pablo Montoya in fifth place.

Denny in the Drop Box in Birmingham: In support of Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team, FedEx is installing custom sound devices featuring a special message from the driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota into hundreds of drop boxes in the Birmingham area. Starting two weeks ago in Charlotte, over 700 of the one-of-a-kind drop boxes are being placed in additional markets, including Charlotte, Greensboro, Birmingham, Ala., and Miami leading up to the season finale of the Sprint Cup Series at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hamlin at Talladega Superspeedway: This weekend will mark Denny Hamlin's eighth Cup start at Talladega and his 148th career Cup start. Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team led on seven occasions for a total of 28 laps in April before being caught up in a multi-car incident with only seven laps to go. Despite having a dominant car for much of the race, Hamlin was unable to make it back to the front before the checkered flag came out and was scored in 22nd place. Previous races at the 2.66-mile superspeedway have seen the #11 team substantially raise their game -- building very good race cars and consistently leading laps. In the fall of 2008 Hamlin charged to the point and had led nine laps before his right front tire went down and sent the #11 FedEx Toyota careening into the turn two wall. The impact forced Hamlin from the race and gave the #11 team a first-ever DNF at Talladega. Before bowing out early last fall, the FedEx team had posted back-to-back top-five finishes. Hamlin's #11 was the class of the field in April of 2008 as the FedEx car showed the ability to pull up to the bumper of seemingly any car on the track then, regardless of where they sat in the pack, push them all the way to the front. A late wreck shuffled the field with 15-laps to go and Hamlin was forced to drive forward from 20th place before finishing third. In the fall of 2007 Hamlin led 40 laps before finishing fourth. In the spring of 2007, Hamlin led 48 laps during the middle portion of the race but, as the action picked up and the cautions started flying, he was forced to pit for fuel and settle for a disappointing 21st-place finish. In his first two Cup starts at Talladega, Hamlin recorded 21st and 22nd place finishes while leading one lap in each race.

FedEx Express Birmingham Market "Along for the Ride" at Talladega: The #11 FedEx Express Camry will feature "BHM" on the wing caps this weekend at Talladega. The Birmingham, Ala., market is being recognized for outstanding commitment to safety and superior customer service.

TALLADEGA CHASSIS -- JGR 233 & 244: The #11 team will unload JGR 233 this weekend at Talladega. This car posted a 22nd place finish at Talladega in April and finished 26th in the 2009 Daytona 500. JGR 244 will serve as the backup this weekend. Hamlin drove 244 to a third-place finish at Daytona in July.


Does the win at Martinsville make up for the pain at California and Charlotte?:

"I don't think it makes up for it as much as gives us something to shoot for, a little extra motivation for the end of the season. We had an awful stretch there and we just had to reevaluate our season a little. The championship is out of reach for us, we gave up too much ground but we wanted to come to Martinsville and win -- it was that simple. We can take a few more chances and we'll take that attitude with us to the end with hopes of getting into the top five by the end. It's frustrating because sitting in 11th place before Martinsville, that didn't represent our team and how competitive we've been this season. We want to go out and show how good we are over the last four races, and if we can't win a championship we'll do our best to win races before this is over. Martinsville is one but we want more and believe we can do it."

You have some changes to the car at Talladega this time out -- How do you see it affecting performance?:

"What we've seen lately is the ability for two cars to hook up and run away from the pack. I think the changes may lead to even more of that. I know I have been able to find Kyle or Joey or another car and we can put a second a lap on the field. I think the intention is good but these changes are going to make the cars even more even in the draft. I think it opens the door for two really good cars that are able to work together to pull away. We'll see on Friday."

-credit: jgr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya