Texas: Denny Hamlin preview

Hamlin, FedEx Racing Persevere in Phoenix: Only ten days after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee, Denny Hamlin climbed back into the ...

Hamlin, FedEx Racing Persevere in Phoenix: Only ten days after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee, Denny Hamlin climbed back into the #11 FedEx Office/March of Dimes Toyota at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday evening determined to put pain to the side in the interest of the team. Despite suffering through the discomfort of the 376 laps around a physical 1.0-mile track, and the agony of losing laps to the leader due to electrical issues, Hamlin never left the seat that he's occupied full-time since 2006, battling throughout the race to post a 30th place finish in the Subway Fresh Fit 600.

Hamlin at Texas Motor Speedway: This weekend will mark Hamlin's tenth start at Texas Motor Speedway and 159th career Sprint Cup Series start. Last fall Hamlin and the FedEx team executed a perfect fuel strategy, covering 64 laps before taking the checkered flag for an impressive second-place finish. One year ago, in the spring of 2009, Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team scored a hard-fought 12th-place finish at Texas. Hamlin battled handling issues for much of the race but still managed to achieve the team's highest position by the time the checkered flag came out. In the spring of 2008 Hamlin posted a fifth-place finish at Texas, scoring his fourth top-ten finish at the track, and then scored a 17th-place finish in the fall after fighting handling issues throughout the race. Despite going a lap down in the spring 2007 event at TMS, Hamlin and team rallied back for a ninth-place finish. In the fall of 2007, Hamlin led 45 laps and battled for the lead with Matt Kenseth late in the race before making contact with the outside wall. Damage to the #11 forced Hamlin to the garage for repair and he would ultimately finish 29th - a result that didn't do justice to the strength of the car or the effort by the team that day. Hamlin recorded a fourth-place finish in the spring race of 2006, and posted a tenth-place finish in the 2006 edition of the Chase for the Nextel Cup. In only his fifth career start at the Cup level, and only a day after being introduced as the full-time driver of the #11 FedEx machine, he piloted the #11 to an impressive seventh-place finish.

FedEx Ground Canada Ground Region Along for the Ride in Texas: FedEx Ground's Canada region will be honored on the b-posts of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota this weekend at Texas. The region is being recognized for leading all of FedEx Ground in package care.

Texas Chassis -- JGR 270 and 246: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 270 this weekend in Texas. This car is a brand new entry from Joe Gibbs Racing. Chassis 246 will serve as the backup this weekend -- this car won at Richmond in Sept. of 2009.


Will a full race and few more days of rest under your belt -- how is your knee feeling?: "It's feeling much better really. It's still sore and I have a long way to go but I am definitely making progress. I went from Phoenix to Los Angeles for a commercial shoot but I have been able to keep working on my rehab and I don't see any reason that I will have trouble with my knee by the time we get to Texas. Unlike Phoenix where we had to use a ton of brake, Texas is much different so I will be in the car and expect to go the full distance just as I did at Phoenix last weekend."

Lots of people are asking why you didn't take the opportunity to jump out at Phoenix?: "I definitely thought about it, especially when we went down a couple of laps and we knew it would be hard to get them back, but I never want to give up on anything and I wasn't going to give up on the team on Saturday night. They worked hard to get that car ready for me, they were patient with me and I owe to it to them to give it my best effort. That's as true when you are running up front as it is when you are struggling. It was actually an easy decision from the seat."

Looking at the season as a whole -- and knee injury aside -- how are you feeling about 2010 so far?: "Still a long way to go so nothing really to worry about. My knee will only get stronger and the same can be said for our team. We are generally slow starters but we've had some awful luck so far this season and that's hurt us when we had some good runs going. We are still in contention so once we hit stride I think we'll be fine. This team is committed to working through these issues and getting back to being consistent -- something we've always been and that's why we have been in the Chase every year. We know what we have to do to get back to that."

-source: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Denny Hamlin