Thursday, March 20, 2014

Denny Hamlin can't wait to return to Fontana

Hamlin comes off a solid run at Bristol. He's 12/1 this week at Fontana
Event: Auto Club 400
Date/Time: March 23/12 p.m. PT
2013 winner: Kyle Busch
2013 polesitter: Denny Hamlin
Distance: 200 laps/400 miles
Track Length: 2 miles
Banking: 14 degrees
Track Shape: Oval


Bristol Recap: Denny Hamlin finished sixth in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, running in the top-10 for the majority of the rain-delayed 500-lap event on the high-banked, half-mile oval won by Carl Edwards. Starting on the pole and leading four times for four laps, Hamlin struggled with a loose race car at the drop of the green flag. Hamlin settled into sixth place before a competition caution on Lap 50, where the crew could work on the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota. After the stop and ensuing restart, Hamlin remained in the top-10 before a rain shower after Lap 124 forced a red flag that lasted for more than three hours. When the race resumed, Hamlin battled among the leaders through the race’s midpoint, and quick work by the FedEx team on pit road kept Hamlin in the hunt for his second Bristol victory. Crew chief Darian Grubb elected to keep Hamlin on the track under caution with less than 100 laps remaining, moving up to third for the restart. However, the inside line never got going, and Hamlin fell back to 10th prior to another caution. A two-tire stop gave Hamlin fresh rubber to challenge for a top-five finish, eventually taking the checkered flag in sixth behind Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola, Tony Stewart and Marcos Ambrose. Hamlin moved up one spot to seventh in the NASCAR standings following the race.

Fontana Preview: The Series heads back west for Sunday’s 400-mile event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Hamlin started on the pole and was leading the race on the final lap at Auto Club one year ago before contact in Turn 4 sent the #11 Toyota careening into the inside retaining wall. Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his back from the crash, and missed the next four races. This Sunday marks Hamlin’s 14th-career Cup Series start at the two-mile track, where he has posted four top-10 finishes and led 76 total laps. Hamlin’s best finish of third at Fontana came in August 2008, where he drove up from a 21st starting position.

FedEx Office – Closest to Auto Club Speedway: 11334 4th Street, Suite 102, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730, (909) 481-2277

Ontario, Calif., Along for the Ride at Fontana: The FedEx Express station in Ontario, Calif., which handles more than 50,000 packages per day, will be recognized with its “ONTA” code letters on the b-post of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota this weekend.


Do you have extra motivation to run well at Fontana after last year’s accident?

“Obviously, Fontana is a place where I have been looking forward to returning to. We were leading the race on the last lap last year, and never made it to the finish. The accident happened and I missed a few races, but I think I’m a better driver because of it and a better person because of it. Being forced out of the car with the injury really gave me some perspective. Every driver obviously wants to win every race they are in, but this one means a little bit more to me. I would love another chance to be out front on the last lap, and this time, finish it off.”

- Weber Shandwick Worldwide for FedEx Racing

No comments: