DENNY HAMLIN — #11 FEDEX OFFICE TOYOTA CAMRY
New Hampshire Recap: Denny Hamlin ran out of fuel while running sixth with three laps remaining in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, finishing 29th in Round 2 of the 2011 Chase won by Tony Stewart. Hamlin made his final stop of the day on Lap 237 (of 300), hoping to conserve enough gas to make it to the checkered flag. The strategy moved the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota into the top-10 and on the brink of the top-five as the laps clicked, but Hamlin slowed on the backstretch just three laps shy of the finish line and coasted to pit road for a splash of fuel. Hamlin started 28th but was one of the fastest cars on the track early in the race, passing eight competitors in the first two runs to move into the top-20. A two-tire stop mid-race moved the #11 Toyota into the top-15, and crew chief Mike Ford kept Hamlin on the track during the race’s last caution period to break into the top-10 for the final 150 laps. The finish keeps Hamlin 12th in the Chase standings following New Hampshire, now 66 points behind leader Stewart after two of 10 playoff races.
Dover Preview: The third race of the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship is Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Hamlin has two top-five finishes and four top-10 results in 11 starts at the ‘Monster Mile,’ including a pair of fourth-place runs in the spring events at the track in 2007 and 2010. Earlier this year, Hamlin started 26th and finished 16th in the FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover. Battling a tight race car throughout the 400-lap event on the one-mile concrete oval in May, Hamlin was never able to gain the track position needed to contend with the frontrunners. Ford called for a host of changes during the team’s pit stops in hopes of bringing the #11 Toyota to life, but the car’s lack of grip never improved.
HAMLIN CONVERSATION – Dover International Speedway:
Why do you think there have been so many fuel mileage races this year?
“I think the tires definitely have something to do with it because the tires now, we’re able to use them and abuse them and really have no repercussions for it. It used to be that guys would pit no matter what — with 20 or 30 laps to go because tires meant something and now that tires don’t mean anything. The guys are just continuing to stay out with two tires. It becomes a fuel mileage race because of that.”
What does it take to get around Dover?
“I look at Dover as a faster version of Bristol. That’s about the best comparison you can make. Dover is a really unique place – from the surface to the banking to the pit road. It’s a unique challenge for the teams to go there but it’s a place where we’ve run pretty well in the past even though our results don’t show that. Dover is a physical track that tests you in the driver’s seat with steep banking and really severe transitions in and out of the corners but it does give you a lot of passing opportunities. There are multiple grooves there and you can find a place to make your car work. Ideally you can run the bottom and pass that way.”
2011 FEDEX RACING – TEAM ROSTER
Crew Chief: Mike Ford – Morristown, Tenn. Front Tire Changer: Nick Krizmanich – Kenosha, Wis.
Car Chief: Chris “Spider” Gillin – Smithtown, N.Y. Front Tire Carrier: Brandon Pegram – Statesville, N.C.
Engineer: Mike Wheeler – Southholt, N.Y. Rear Tire Changer: Mike Hicks – Salisbury, N.C.
Shocks: Drew Bible – Coldwater, Mich. Rear Tire Carrier: Heath Cherry – Belmont, N.C.
Tire Specialist: Patrick Mullen – Brick, N.J. Jackman: Nate Bolling – Swanton, Ohio
Engine Tuner: Chris Woodward – Franklin, N.H. Gas Man: Scott Wood – Liberty, S.C.
Mechanic: Rick Bray – Placerville, Calif. Pit Crew Coordinator: Paul Alepa – Vienna, Va.
Mechanic: John Furino – Long Island, N.Y. JGR Athletic Director: Michael Lepp – Charlotte, N.C.
Spotter: Curtis Markham – Fredericksburg, Va.
Hauler Driver: Jerry Hess – Lancaster, Pa.
Hauler Driver: Frank Hodel – Blythe, Calif.