|Denny Hamlin is 12/1 to win his first Daytona 500|
#11 FedEx Express Toyota
Joe Gibbs Racing
Race: Daytona 500
Date/Time: Feb. 22/1 p.m. ET
Distance: 200 laps/500 miles
Track Length: 2.5 miles
Track Shape: Tri-oval
Banking: 31 degrees
2014 Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Sprint Unlimited Recap: Hamlin finished 19th in Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona. The defending race winner was collected in a Lap 45 incident triggered by a spin at the front of the field. Hamlin checked up to avoid the melee, but was hit from behind and sent spinning through the infield grass, where he sustained heavy damage to the front end of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota. Hamlin started ninth and ran throughout the draft pack during the event won by JGR teammate Matt Kenseth.
Daytona 500 Preview: Hamlin will make his 10th start in the prestigious Daytona 500 on Sunday. Hamlin’s best finish in the “Great American Race” was a runner-up result just one year ago. In the 2014 Daytona 500, Hamlin started fourth and led 16 laps before crossing the finish line second to eventual winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hamlin also finished fourth in the Daytona 500 in 2012 and has led 253 laps at the track in 18 career Cup Series starts. Hamlin posted the third-fastest qualifying time in Sunday’s time trials at Daytona, but the time was disallowed after NASCAR discovered a track bar infraction in post-qualifying technical inspection. As a result, the FedEx Racing Team will have to start from the rear of the second Budweiser Duel on Thursday night, and no other penalties will be levied. The two Duel qualifying races will set the field for the Daytona 500. Hamlin won his Duel race one year ago.
Plate Prowess: The FedEx team enjoyed a remarkable season in 2014 on restrictor-plate races. Hamlin’s lone victory of the year came at Talladega Superspeedway in April, and he finished in the top-10 in three of the four events, including a second-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a sixth-place result in the rain-shortened July race in Daytona. Hamlin also has four wins in exhibition races at Daytona, including a pair of Sprint Unlimited wins (2006 and 2014) and two Budweiser Duel qualifying races (2008 and 2014).
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Average Start: 17.0
Average Finish: 19.6
Laps Led: 253
What is the strategy for Thursday night’s Budweiser Duel race now starting from the back?
“We’ll certainly be at a disadvantage because the race is so short and track position has become so key at these (restrictor) plate tracks. It will be interesting for sure. We have to pick our spots to move up through the field and maybe use a little strategy on pit road to make up more ground. You want to get a good finish in the Duel to get a good starting spot and pit stall for the 500, and that’s what we’ll try to do. With so many guys needing to race their way into the 500, it will be interesting on Thursday night.”
St. Louis Along for the Ride at Daytona: The FedEx Express location in metro St. Louis will be recognized for its outstanding work with the “STL” code letters on the b-post of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota for Sunday’s 57th running of the Daytona 500.
FedEx Office – Closest to Daytona International Speedway: 2274 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114, (386) 323-7840
#11 FedEx Racing – 2015 Crew Roster
Crew Chief – Dave Rogers
Car Chief – Joe Fiorelli
Engineers – Chris Gabehart, Kenny Oates
Shock Specialist – Ron Denton
Tire Specialist – Jamie Turski
Mechanics – Joey Forgette, Jerad Hewitt, Jason Clements
Spotter – Chris Lambert
Front Tire Changer: Dustin Necaise
Front Tire Carrier: Brandon Pegram
Rear Tire Changer: Mike Hicks
Rear Tire Carrier: Heath Cherry
Jack Man: Tracy Duncan
Gas Man: Caleb Hurd
Pit Crew Coordinator: Paul Alepa
Athletic Director: Mike Lepp
Transportation – Bob Hannigan, Kyle Bazzell
- Weber Shandwick Worldwide for FedEx Racing