Event: Bank of America 500
Date/Time: Oct. 16, 2010/3 p.m. EST
2009 winner: Jimmie Johnson
2009 polesitter: Jimmie Johnson
Distance: 334 laps/501 miles
Track Length: 1.5 miles
Banking: 24 degrees
Track Shape: Quad Oval
Hamlin, FedEx Racing Eighth at Auto Club: Denny Hamlin marched forward from the back of the field to claim an eighth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway last weekend and keep his Championship hopes very much alive through four Chase for the Sprint Cup races. Hamlin battled into the top-ten by the halfway point of the race and looked poised to challenge for the win before late restarts shuffled him back ahead of taking the checkered flag in eighth. Hamlin and team head home to Charlotte trailing current points leader Jimmie Johnson by 36 points.
Hamlin at Charlotte Motor Speedway: This weekend will mark Hamlin’s 11th Cup start at Charlotte and his 182nd career Cup start. Earlier this season, Hamlin and the #11 team endured early damage to the FedEx Office Camry, making a long race longer as they were forced to work through significant repairs on their way to a 18th place finish in the Coca-Cola 600. As the race moved from day to night, Hamlin maintained his position in the top five, but a spin by Jimmie Johnson on lap 274 forced Hamlin low on the track to avoid contact and, in doing so, he clipped the edge of the infield grass, causing significant damage to the front splitter. The team took advantage of several pit stops to repair what they could on pit road but the damage was enough to keep Hamlin from challenging the leaders at the end. Lucky dog passes kept the #11 on the lead lap and Hamlin charged forward before the checkered flag waved to claim 18th spot on the night. Last fall, Hamlin led 54 laps and looked ready to challenge for the win. Unfortunately, an engine part failure that forced Hamlin from the race and the FedEx Toyota on the transporter on lap 192 saw the team scored 42nd on the night. In the summer of 2009, during a weekend full of weather-interrupted racing, Hamlin posted a well-deserved 11th-place finish in the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600. The #11 team ran in the top-ten throughout the race, only falling outside at the end when pit stops decided the final order. Fall races at Charlotte have been a mixed bag for Hamlin and team. In 2008, Hamlin ran comfortably in the top-ten before a lap 233 incident caused damage to the car and left Hamlin unable to regain the performance he enjoyed up to that point. In 2007, just as Hamlin appeared poised to bring home a top-five finish, transmission issues that had been threatening for much of the race finally crippled the #11 under caution. The ensuing repairs forced Hamlin to ride out the remainder of the race in fourth gear while mired back in the pack. He would ultimately take the checkered flag in 20th place. In 2006, a lap one multi-car wreck caught Hamlin and the ensuing damage sent him immediately to the garage for significant repairs. He returned to the track but wasn’t able to improve beyond a 28th-place finish. Hamlin made his debut at Lowe’s in 2005. In only his second-ever Cup start, Hamlin pushed the #11 forward from a starting position of 39th to claim his first-ever top-ten finish.
Race Series Date Start Finish Laps (Led)
Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup May 30, 2010 7 18 400/400 3
NASCAR Banking 500 Sprint Cup Oct. 17, 2009 17 42 192/334 54
Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup May. 25, 2009 13 11 227/227
Bank of America 500 Sprint Cup Oct. 11, 2008 12 16 334/334
Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup May 25, 2008 16 24 399/400 1
Bank of America 500 Nextel Cup Oct. 13, 2007 11 20 337/337
Coca-Cola 600 Nextel Cup May 27, 2007 6 9 400/400 1
Bank of America 500 Nextel Cup Oct. 14, 2006 22 28 265/334
Coca-Cola 600 Nextel Cup May 28, 2006 8 9 400/400 25
UAW-GM Quality 500 Nextel Cup Oct. 15, 2005 39 8 336/336 1
Averages/Totals 15.1 18.5 93.2% 85
Charlotte Chassis – JGR 279 and 288: The team will unload JGR 279 at Charlotte this weekend. This car recorded a ninth-place finish at Dover two weeks ago. Chassis JGR 288 will serve as the backup.
FedEx Ground Ohio Valley District Along for the Ride in Charlotte: The #11 FedEx Ground Camry will carry the letters OHVL on the B-posts this weekend in recognition of the Ohio Valley District team. The team is being recognized for their consistently strong performance in package care. The Ohio Valley district encompasses the Northern Kentucky hub and its satellite facilities in southwestern Ohio, eastern Indiana, and northern Kentucky.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION – Charlotte:
You have talked a lot about the importance of staying in the middle of the fight through the first half of the Chase, are you comfortable with your position?: “We knew we that we couldn’t beat ourselves through these first races and we haven’t so we feel pretty good. We would have liked better finishes at a couple of tracks and to be in the lead in points but we’re in good shape heading to some tracks where we think we’ll be competitive. We just want to be racing our races and not worrying about anyone else – if we can do that, it gives us our best chance of success.”
What has experience here at Charlotte, both in the 600 and in the fall race, taught you?: “For one it really helps to qualify good here. We always feel good about our equipment here but we’ve had some cases where we’ve been caught in traffic and had contact or something happen that has hurt us early. And then we just can’t beat ourselves at this track. We’ve been really good here but we need to make the end and that means good changes, good stops and a smart drive by me.”
A year ago you had one of the dominant cars before being knocked out of the race – is this a place you’ve improved as much as any other track?: “I would say it is. This is a place I struggled with early on but a place where I have really benefitted from Kyle (Busch). Everyone knows how strong he is on these types of tracks and he’s shared a lot of information with me – I know it’s made me better here and with the improvement in our intermediate program it means we can come to big tracks like this and be right there with any car.”
2010 FEDEX RACING – TEAM ROSTER
Crew Chief: Mike Ford – Morristown, Tenn.
Car Chief: Chris “Spider” Gillin – Smithtown, NY
Shocks: Tim Sparkman – St. Louis, Mo.
Engineer: Mike Wheeler – Southholt, NY
Tire Specialist: Patrick Mullen – Brick, N.J.
Windshield: Bobby “Spike” Christenson – Spokane, Wash.
Mechanic: Rick Bray – Placerville, Calif.
Hauler Driver: Jerry Hess – Lancaster, Pa.
Mechanic: John Furino – Long Island, NY
Hauler Driver: Frank Hodel – Blythe, Calif.
Spotter: Curtis Markham – Fredericksburg, Va.
Front Tire Changer: Jonathan Sherman – Monroe, La.
Rear Tire Changer: Mike Hicks – Salisbury, N.C.
Rear Tire Carrier: Heath Cherry – Belmont, N.C.
Front Tire Carrier: Brandon Pegram – Statesville, N.C.
Jackman: Nate Bolling – Swanton, Ohio
Motor Specialist: Chris Woodward – Franklin, NH
Gas can: Scott Wood – Liberty, S.C.
Catch Can: John Eicher – London, Ky..
JGR Athletic Director: Michael Lepp – Charlotte, N.C.