Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Denny Hamlin in Good Shape to Compete with Gibbs Teammates Saturday Night

Hamlin in great situation; his teammates have owned 1.5-mile tracks in '13 

Event: Sprint All-Star Race
Date/Time: May 18/9 p.m. ET
2012 winner: Jimmie Johnson
2012 polesitter: Kyle Busch
Distance: 90 laps/135 miles
Track Length: 1.5 miles
Banking: 24 degrees
Track Shape: Quad-Oval


All-Star Race Preview: Denny Hamlin will climb into the #11 FedEx Express Toyota in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the seventh start for Hamlin in the non-points exhibition event. One year ago, Hamlin started third and led 16 laps in the five segment, 90-lap race, but fell to 20th in the final 10-lap run won by Jimmie Johnson. Hamlin has recorded three top-10 finishes in six previous All-Star races, including career-best fourth-place runs in 2009 and 2010. 

He has qualified for the All-Star Race in every season after his 2006 rookie campaign (2007-2012) by virtue of race wins. This year’s field will again compete for the $1 million first place prize, with an additional $1 million up for grabs if a driver can win all five segments in the race. Qualifying on Friday night will be comprised of three laps on the track as well as a mandatory four-tire pit stop by the FedEx Racing crew.

Darlington Recap: Hamlin finished second in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in his first full event since suffering a back injury on March 24, crossing the finish line 3.155 seconds behind teammate Matt Kenseth in the #11 Sport Clips Toyota. Hamlin qualified sixth and ran among the leaders throughout the 367-lap event on the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval. Long green flag runs tested the FedEx Racing crew on pit road, and crew chief Darian Grubb made changes to the car to keep up with the track conditions after nightfall. In the end, the car was at its best for the final 30-lap run, with Hamlin following Kenseth to the checkered flag for the 1-2 Joe Gibbs Racing finish. Hamlin moved up four spots to 27th in the NASCAR standings following Darlington, 61 points behind Jeff Burton in 20th after 11 of 26 regular season races.

Charlotte Team Along for the Ride at the All-Star Race: This weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the #11 FedEx Express Toyota will carry the letters ‘CLTR’ on the b-posts to recognize the Air Ground & Freight Services operations teams in the Charlotte market.


What are your goals for the All-Star Race?

“Obviously, the All-Star Race is a great event for the fans and one that the drivers can hang it all on the line. The All-Star Race this year, for me, is another chance to get back into racing shape after missing a month or so. Last weekend at Darlington, it felt good to just be competitive again. Watching the races from the sidelines for really five weeks, it was tough. You know you can change things. You can do things to change your outcome. But you’re not in the race car. My back held up good, but I was more sore in the shoulders and neck, things like that. I have to get back in racing shape. It will take time to get back to where I need to be, and the All-Star Race will help that.”

- Weber Shandwick Worldwide for FedEx Racing

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