Charlotte: Denny Hamlin preview

DENNY HAMLIN Double Duty Weekend for Z-Line Designs HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 20, 2008) -- Z-Line Designs President Jim Sexton has his sights set on pulling "Double Duty" this Memorial Day weekend. While he won't be attempting to emulate...

DENNY HAMLIN
Double Duty Weekend for Z-Line Designs

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 20, 2008) -- Z-Line Designs President Jim Sexton has his sights set on pulling "Double Duty" this Memorial Day weekend.

While he won't be attempting to emulate racers Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and John Andretti by driving in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, Sexton and Z-Line Designs will get to experience the next best thing as their colors will go along for a ride in two of the weekend's biggest races.

The San Ramon, Calif.-based designer and import manufacturer of ready-to-assemble furniture will start the weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway by adorning Denny Hamlin's No. 20 Z-Line Designs Toyota in Saturday's Carquest 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. The very next day, Sexton and Co. will arrive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 92nd Indianapolis 500, where they will root on 2002 Indy 500 pole winner Bruno Junqueira, who will start this year's 500 from the outside of row five in the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Dallara fielded by Dale Coyne Racing.

Sexton and Z-Line Designs have plenty of reasons for optimism on the first leg of their 800-mile journey this weekend. The Carquest 300 gives the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Team the chance to make it five straight Nationwide Series wins, as they've won at Mexico City, Talladega (Ala.), Richmond (Va.) and Darlington (S.C.). Add the victories from Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 team at Texas and Phoenix, and Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas have rung up six consecutive Nationwide Series wins. Altogether, Hamlin, along with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch, have totaled eight series wins, four poles and have led 1,117 of the 2,067 laps possible (54 percent) over the first 12 races of the season.

Saturday's 300-mile event at Charlotte will mark Hamlin's first race back behind the wheel of the No. 20 Z-Line Designs Toyota since the Chesterfield, Va.-native brought home his first career win at his hometown track in Richmond three weeks ago. The win was Z-Line's second of the season, as Stewart scored the company's maiden victory in February at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

With the success that Z-Line Designs has experienced so far this season, the company isn't content to simply ride around for 800 miles this weekend. It also hopes to take home more precious hardware in the process -- a process that began at Charlotte last Monday.

Despite their success this season, Rogers and the No. 20 have not rested on their laurels. The team used a break in the Nationwide Series schedule last weekend to keep Joe Gibbs Racing's win streak alive. The team tested May 12 at Charlotte with Hamlin at the wheel, and at the end of the day, were tops on the speed chart with a fast time of 29.635 seconds at 182.217 mph around the 1.5-mile oval. They spent Tuesday working on the No. 20 Z-Line Designs machine at the shop before testing again on Wednesday, this time at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway with Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Joey Logano, who will make his debut in the vaunted No. 20 machine May 31 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

With Z-Line Designs set to "double-down" this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing's dynamic duo of Hamlin and Rogers aim to start it off right with yet another Joe Gibbs Racing win at Charlotte. Then, it'll be up to Junqueira and his mates at Dale Coyne Racing to carry the Z-Line Designs torch in the Indianapolis 500. Either way, it'll be double the fun for Z-Line Designs.

Denny Hamlin -- Driver, No. 20 Z-Line Designs NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry at Charlotte

As competitive as NASCAR's Nationwide Series is today, how impressive is it that the No. 20 team has won four consecutive races with three different drivers?

"It's incredibly impressive to me, but not totally surprising since I know how hard Dave (Rogers) and all of the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing's Nationwide Series shop have worked. This business has so many peaks and valleys, but those guys on both the 18 and 20 team are at the peak right now and on top of their game, that's for sure. What you need to make sure of, though, is that as hard as you work, you can't stop working and be happy with what you have because there are other teams out there working just as hard as they are. If you're happy with what you have and don't try to learn more, it will be easy for other great teams like Childress and Roush to catch you and even get ahead. I think that's what is making this team so good right now. They're constantly looking to see how they can make the car better. That's the mark of a great team."

In six career Nationwide Series races at Charlotte, you've never seemed able to have much luck. Why is that?

"Charlotte has never really treated me very well, especially in the Nationwide Series. I just never got comfortable there when I was a rookie in 2005. I wrecked three cars between the two races there and really struggled. I always took a lot of pride in trying to bring my cars home in one piece and I just remember both of those races being really frustrating. When I finally got enough seat time between the Sprint Cup car and the Nationwide Series car, I finally started feeling comfortable there, especially last year. The new pavement from a couple of years ago is finally starting to get worn in, but not enough to see the tires fall off too much over a run. Charlotte has always been a place where you need to survive and save your stuff for the end. If we can stay out of trouble, we'll have a great shot of bringing our Z-Line Designs car home a winner."

Dave Rogers -- Crew Chief, No. 20 Z-Line Designs NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing

Now that you've had a weekend off, have you had time to reflect on what Joe Gibbs Racing's Nationwide Series program, and particularly the No. 20 team, has accomplished so far this season?

"I think everyone else has been thinking about it more than we do. We are definitely appreciative of where we are, but we just keep looking at what we need to do to prepare for the next week and keep it going. We're not sitting back because we know the competition is trying to beat us and we are probably more prepared now than we've ever been. I read a quote the other day that summed it up better than I ever could. It said that if you are impressed by what you did yesterday, then you haven't done anything today. I think that's the attitude that we've taken. We've been blessed this season more than ever before, but we also know that it's taken a lot of hard work to get to this point, and it's also going to take even more to keep winning. We haven't come back to the shop and put our feet up on the desk. We've focused on trying to put our heads together and figure how to win the next one."

You tested at Charlotte last Monday with the No. 20 Z-Line Designs Toyota and it was the quickest car in both sessions. What did you learn from the test that you can apply to Saturday's race?

"We had a really productive test at Charlotte with Denny in the Z-Line Designs car. It's the same right-side tire we had at Darlington, so we were just building off what we learned there. It was originally scheduled to be just a one-day test regardless of how we were running, since we had to turn our Darlington car around on Tuesday to test with Joey Logano at Rockingham on Wednesday. We just prioritized what we had to do to get everything accomplished in a day. We hung a new body on the car Kyle (Busch) ran at Atlanta and Nashville and feel we will have a strong car for this weekend."

- credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers John Andretti , Tony Stewart , Bruno Junqueira , Denny Hamlin , Joey Logano , Dale Coyne , Kyle Busch
Teams Dale Coyne Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing