|Hamlin is 5/1 Vegas favorite to win Sunday (Getty)|
To start the race, Hamlin was the odd-man-out with 43 cars on the track and struggled throughout most of the day to find a draft partner. By lap 25 of 188, the FedEx team was down a lap and needed the Lucky Dog to get back on the lead lap. Using various drafting partners throughout the remainder of the event — including teammates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman — the #11 Toyota worked from the back to the front. However, Newman’s damaged car was unable to keep the duo in the top-10, with the two slipping back.
A caution with 15 laps remaining enabled Hamlin and Logano to link back up, and the duo sliced through the field to get back in contention. Hamlin was collected by Mark Martin in an incident, but quick work by the FedEx crew got Hamlin back on track for the finish, where he was able to move up to eighth for the checkered flag.
Martinsville Preview: The Series shifts to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, a track that Hamlin has had great success at throughout his career. The 30-year-old Chesterfield, Va., native has won four races at the 0.526-mile ‘paper clip,’ including the last two fall Chase races.
Hamlin has been dominant at Martinsville in his career, finishing in the top-five in eight of 12 starts at the track. In the spring race at the track, Hamlin started fifth and led a race-high 89 of 500 laps, but an untimely caution after the FedEx team had made its green flag pit stop yielded a 12th-place finish.
Hamlin swept the two races at the track in 2010, starting on the pole and leading 40 laps en route to victory lane in last year’s fall race. The spring race saw a determined Hamlin charge from ninth to first in four laps for the win, just two days before undergoing reconstructive knee surgery.
Hamlin earned his first victory at Martinsville in the spring 2008 race, and won again in the fall of 2009. In total, Hamlin has led 1,038 laps at the track, and has an average finish of 6.6.
What has been your key to success at Martinsville? “It’s really a combination of things. I have raced at Martinsville more than I have raced at any other track when you consider total laps. Growing up in Virginia I had the chance to race here in some other series and all that track time definitely gave me a comfort level at Martinsville. That carried over to trucks and Nationwide Series and now to the Cup Series. I feel really confident at this track and I know we bring great cars – those things together usually lead to success. It’s also a lot of pressure because this is a race we circle as one where we expect to be really competitive.”
- Weber Shandwick Worldwide for FedEx Racing, Press Release