Phoenix – Post Race Report
Hamlin Charges to Third-Place Finish in Phoenix
The FedEx Racing team used excellent strategy and quick pit stops in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway to help get Denny Hamlin into the top-five for the final charge to the checkered flag, and the driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota made a breathtaking, three-wide last lap move to finish third in the 312-mile race won by Carl Edwards. Hamlin lined up fourth for the two-lap, 'green-white-checkered' shootout behind Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski. Coming off Turn 2 on the white flag lap, Hamlin dove to the inside, cutting off the backstretch dogleg to get position for Turn 3. After clearing Keselowski, Hamlin and Johnson battled side-by-side to the finish line, with Johnson nipping Hamlin by one one-thousandth of a second. "What a great effort by this FedEx team," said Hamlin, following the race. "We didn't have the best car today, but Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and the pit crew did an awesome job with strategy and stops to get me to the front. For that last restart, I had nothing to lose and went for it. It's a great finish for us to build on for next week." Following an engine change Saturday, Hamlin was forced to relinquish his eighth-place qualifying effort to start at the rear of the field at the one-mile desert oval. The 32-year-old Virginia-native picked his way into the top-20 before his first pit stop, and then a series of two-tire stops helped move the #11 machine into the top-10. Hamlin battled a loose race car throughout the event, but it was at its best when it mattered at the end. The finish moved Hamlin up to fourth in the point standings following Phoenix, 18 points behind Johnson after two of 26 regular season races. The Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a 400-mile event on Sunday, March 10.