Geico 400 – Pre Race Report
Denny Hamlin finished 21st in last Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, unable to overcome an unlucky pit strategy call that trapped the #11 FedEx Express Toyota one lap down in the 300-mile event won by Carl Edwards. Hamlin qualified sixth and ran among the top-10 throughout the early portion of the 400-lap race on the three-quarter-mile track. The Chesterfield, Va., native battled a tight race car in the center of the corners, moving around the surface looking for more grip. Following a pit stop under caution for chassis changes, fuel and tires, Hamlin restarted on the outside and was put three-wide, pushed into the rubber marbles near the wall and losing a handful of spots back to 20th. The car did not respond in the dirty air, and Hamlin radioed that the changes made the car worse. Crew chief Darian Grubb brought Hamlin down pit road under green on Lap 340, but the caution came out just two laps later, trapping the #11 machine two laps down. After the wave around to get one lap back, Hamlin was unable to make up the second lap by the checkered flag. Hamlin failed to qualify for the Chase championship playoff for the first time in his career after missing four races earlier this season with a back injury.
The Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for a 267-lap event on the 1.5-mile oval and Round 1 of the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoff. Hamlin is making his eighth-career start at Chicagoland, a place where he has two top-10 finishes. His best result of fifth came in the July 2009 event at the track. One year ago, Hamlin started eighth and ran among the top-five throughout the event. However, during the team's final scheduled green flag pit stop, the #11 machine was not filled up full with fuel, forcing Hamlin to make another stop and relegating the FedEx team to a 16th-place finish. Hamlin led one lap in the race a year ago.
Miami Intercontinental Along for the Ride at Chicagoland:
The FedEx Office location in Miami, Fla., is a leading store team in the company's annual President's Club program. The team will be recognized for excellent service and dedication to their customers with its "5613" code numbers on the b-post of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.
FedEx Racing Conversation – Denny HamlinDo you have to adjust your race preparation now that the Chase has started?
"Obviously, we would love to be part of the Chase and competing for a championship spot, but now it's up to us to go out there and challenge for race wins these last 10 weeks. We have always prepared to win the race, but knowing that points really don't matter for us, we can take a few more chances and do everything we can do to get to victory lane. We have qualified pretty well this year, but haven't come away with the results we have wanted. We'll do everything we can to help our teammates bring home the championship for Joe Gibbs Racing, and do everything we can to win races."