Hamlin, No. 11 Team Take Texas Sweep, Three Contingency Awards CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 8, 2010) -- A power move on the final restart of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway earned Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 FedEx Express Joe Gibbs...
Hamlin, No. 11 Team Take Texas Sweep, Three Contingency Awards
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 8, 2010) -- A power move on the final restart of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway earned Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 FedEx Express Joe Gibbs Racing team the victory, three post-race contingency awards and the points lead in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
There was little reason to think any of that would happen after a qualifying lap put him 30th on the starting grid. Solid adjustments -- not to mention driver talent -- throughout Sunday's event propelled the FedEx Toyota to the front, gaining 29 total positions and earning Hamlin his fifth O'Reilly Auto Parts Position Improvement Award of the 2010 season. The award is presented weekly to the eligible driver who improves the most positions from their start to finish.
In a race that featured a track-record 33 lead changes, Hamlin, who led twice for 31 laps, picked up his seventh WIX Filters Lap Leader of the Race Award this year, given weekly to the eligible driver who leads the most laps during the race.
Hamlin also picked up his eighth Sunoco Diamond Performance Award of the year as the highest finishing eligible driver. It's Hamlin's 16th career win and series-leading eighth in 2010.
These awards are part of the NASCAR Prize Money and Decal Program, also referred to as the Contingency Program, which provide teams prize money and weekly awards based on performance in several categories.
"Early in my career, I probably led more laps in 2006, '07 and '08 than I have in 2009 and '10 but I've won more races in '09 and '10 because we're closing better at the end, and I think that's because I've kept my head on straight," said Hamlin after Sunday's race. "For me I think over the last year I've been a whole lot more mentally tough when it comes to these races, especially at the end, to figure out what it takes to win."
"We weren't that good to get started, but we knew in practice we had a good car," said crew chief Mike Ford. "The last two races we haven't qualified well here, so I really wasn't that worried about it. As the sun started to go down, that's when our car really started to work good, and the last adjustments were probably the best of the day."
With just two races left in the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Hamlin holds a narrow 33-point lead over second-place Jimmie Johnson and a 59-point margin over third place Kevin Harvick heading into Sunday's KOBALT Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. (ESPN; 3 p.m. ET).
Official winners of this week's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Prize Money & Decal Program special awards include:
* COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD:Elliott Sadler (195.397 mph)
* DIRECTV CREW CHIEF OF THE RACE AWARD: Greg Erwin (crew chief for Greg Biffle)
* GOODYEAR GATORBACK BELTS FASTEST LAP AWARD: Greg Biffle (186.754 mph, Lap 202)
* MAHLE CLEVITE ENGINE BUILDER OF THE RACE AWARD:Tom Ghent (engine builder for Greg Biffle, No. 16)
* MOBIL 1 "COMMAND PERFORMANCE DRIVER OF THE RACE" AWARD:Marcos Ambrose
* MOOG CHASSIS PARTS PROBLEM SOLVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Jimmy Fennig (crew chief for Matt Kenseth)
* NASCAR SPRINT CUP LEADER BONUS: Denny Hamlin
* O'REILLY AUTO PARTS POSITION IMPROVEMENT AWARD:Denny Hamlin (29 places)
* SUNOCO DIAMOND PERFORMANCE AWARD: Denny Hamlin
* TISSOT "PIT ROAD PRECISION" AWARD:Mark Martin (305.658 secs.)
* WIX FILTERS LAP LEADER AWARD: Denny Hamlin (31 Laps)