Toyota - Save Mart 350 – Pre Race Report
Denny Hamlin finished 30th in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, battling an ill-handling #11 FedEx Express Camry throughout the 200-lap event on the two-mile track won by Greg Biffle. Hamlin started 11th in the 400-mile race, driving a specially-wrapped FedEx Express paint scheme. The paint scheme was featured during the FedEx Racing Team's inaugural 2005 season with driver Jason Leffler, who passed away last week in a sprint car racing accident in New Jersey. Unfortunately, the car was a handful for Hamlin from the start, as he fought a terribly loose condition on the green track with little grip. Crew chief Darian Grubb tried a host of remedies to the car during pit stops, including changing a right-front shock under caution, but none could bring the #11 machine to life. The finish dropped Hamlin one spot to 26th in the NASCAR standings following Michigan, 85 points out of 20th position after 15 of 26 regular season races.
The Series heads to Sonoma Raceway in northern California for the season's first road course event on the 1.99-mile, 12-turn circuit. Hamlin is making his eighth-career start at Sonoma this Sunday, and has two top-10 finishes to his credit at the track. His best result came in his fourth start at Sonoma, driving from a 24th-place starting position to finish fifth in 2009, leading 33 laps. He also finished 10th at Sonoma in 2007. Last year, he was running among the leaders when contact from behind in Turn 11 caused suspension damage to the #11 FedEx Toyota and extensive repairs in the garage, ending the team's day early. Hamlin has led 48 laps at Sonoma in his career.
FedEx Racing Conversation – Denny HamlinHow do you approach the season's first road course race this weekend in Sonoma?
"Obviously, you have to approach the road course races a little bit different, in terms of pit strategy on Sunday and what you look for in your car. Sonoma is a very tight, technical track, as opposed to Watkins Glen, and you need to make sure your car can get off the corners. To get a good finish, you need to stay clean throughout the majority of the race, and be aggressive when it's warranted to get around guys. We have been the victim of some aggressive driving there the past couple of years in Turn 11, so it's important we stay up front."