Michigan: Denny Hamlin race report

Bad Luck in the Irish Hills Places the No. 11 CARFAX Toyota 32nd (August 15, 2009) Brooklyn, MI & ...

Bad Luck in the Irish Hills Places the No. 11 CARFAX Toyota 32nd

(August 15, 2009) Brooklyn, MI – Title race sponsor CARFAX and CJM Racing teamed up again at Michigan International Speedway in hopes of bringing home that elusive first win. Things appeared to be on course for just that until a shifter issue would change the fate of the race team. Some quick work by the team back in the garage area, would get the No. 11 CARFAX Toyota back out on the track but eight laps down. At the close of the race, CJM Racing would have to settle for a 32nd place finish.

Denny Hamlin returned to the seat of the No. 11 CJM Racing entry for the second scheduled race of the season. With a solid performance record at the mile-and-a half facility, the team was anxious to get the No. 11 CARFAX Toyota out on track.

Practice provided the results the team had hoped for. Hamlin was third quick in the first practice session and second quick in the final session. After the strong showing, the buzz around the garage was that Hamlin and the No. 11 CARFAX Toyota would end up in victory lane after the race on Saturday.

Qualifying would need to take place before the green flag could wave for the CARFAX 250. Hamlin drew an early qualifying spot and hit the track second. His quick time placed him in the eighth position after 51 cars made qualifying laps.

Under hot and humid weather conditions; the start of the CARFAX 250 began just before 4:00 pm (EST). Hamlin wasted no time and advanced three positions as he came around to complete lap one out of 125.

A slight concern over a free handling condition was brought to the attention of crew chief Paul Wolfe on lap 16. That didn't prevent Hamlin from running some of the fastest lap times on the board. The fast speeds placed the CARFAX Toyota in the top-three by lap 38.

The fate of the race team would change drastically on lap 44. Hamlin was about to come down pit road for a green flag pit stop when the No. 40 car blew up and was dumping fluids all over the race track. In an effort to take advantage of the caution, Hamlin drove the CARFAX Toyota up off of the apron and back out onto the race track.

It was almost immediately after that Hamlin came across the radio and stated, "I think the transmission broke." The team's hopes of a win or even a top-five finish looked bleak at that point. Hamlin went on the say, "it's the shifter that is broke."

The CARFAX Toyota was pushed back to the garage area where the team quickly went to work to fix the problem. It was discovered that a single bolt was missing and within eight laps the problem had been resolved and the No. 11 was back out on the race track.

"We broke something on the shifter. It's the story of my life – I break more stuff than anyone else, it's unbelievable," Hamlin explained when asked what took him out of contention for a win.

The CARFAX Toyota Camry rejoined the field in the 32nd position on lap 58. With little hope of regaining eight laps, Hamlin went out on track and did his best to have some fun.

"It's a shame that this car is that good and we're running where we are at," remarked Hamlin as he was passing lead lap cars out on the track.

At the end of the day, the No. 11 CARFAX Toyota crossed the finish line in the 32nd position.

Next up is the Food City 250 at the "World's Fastest Half-Mile" in Bristol, Tennessee.

-credit: cjmr

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Drivers Paul Wolfe , Denny Hamlin