Posted by kryan June - 15 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Denny Hamlin at MichiganDenny Hamlin led four times for a race-high 76 (of 200) laps Sunday at Pocono Raceway, but a flat left-rear tire under caution with less than 50 laps to go led to myriad problems for the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota down the stretch and a 19th-place finish. Starting fourth and staying amongst the top-five as the laps clicked, Hamlin was third when the caution flew on Lap 156. Crew chief Mike Ford called for four tires and an adjustment on pit road, and quick work by the FedEx crew kept Hamlin in third. However, Hamlin radioed a potential flat tire before the green flag. After the crew confirmed it, the tire came off, causing left-rear quarter panel damage and snapping the rear brake line before Hamlin came back down pit road for repairs. With a wounded car, no brakes and restarting back in the pack in 21st, Hamlin did his best to gain spots before the checkered flag behind eventual winner Jeff Gordon. Hamlin was the class of the field for the first half of the 500-mile event on the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle,” taking the lead for the first time on the second lap. The 30-year-old Virginia native led through a handful of green flag pit cycles. The finish dropped Hamlin one spot to 12th in the NASCAR standings after 14 of 26 regular season races.

Michigan Preview
Hamlin is making his 11th Cup Series start at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) and the 202nd of his career Sunday in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry. Hamlin is the defending race winner at Michigan, leading 123 of 200 laps in June 2010 en route to victory lane at the two-mile track. It was his first victory at Michigan, and he followed it with a runner-up finish in the Series’ return trip to MIS last August. Hamlin has four top-five finishes and six top-10 results in 10 starts at the track — including four-straight top-10 runs, dating back to a third-place in June 2009. In total, Hamlin has completed 1,928 of 1,935 laps (99.6%) in his career at Michigan, leading 140, with an average finish of 10.9.

Bentonville (Ark.) FedEx Office Along for the Ride in Michigan
The FedEx Office location in Bentonville, Ark., currently leads the company’s President’s Club program, and will be recognized with its “1588″ code numbers on the b-post of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota this weekend.

Hamlin Conversation – Michigan International Speedway

How tough is it for you to put Pocono’s disappointing finish behind you?
“Although it was a disappointing finish last weekend, I’m encouraged by how our cars have been performing lately. We were fast at Pocono and led a bunch of laps. It’s tough to have a flat tire on pit road under caution ruin our day, but it could’ve been a lot worse. I didn’t have rear brakes for that last run, and was doing everything I could to hang on. But, we have had pretty good cars the last few weeks, and have been up front and challenging for wins. Pocono is tough because it’s a track we circle each year as somewhere we should run well at, but we have a long way to go before the Chase starts and I still believe this FedEx team will get some wins and get into the top-10 in points before too long.”

How has your confidence level changed at Michigan over the years?
“Michigan is a track where we never ran very well early in my career — we struggled and had some bad luck. It was also a combination of my comfort level and just not being able to get the car where we needed it. I think it was June of 2009 that we came here with a new car and a new set up and it clicked. We were fast off the truck and finished third and it was a turning point for us in a lot of ways. We came back in August and ran in the top 10 and then really hit on it when we came back last year. In June, we dominated a race probably as much as I ever have, and finished second in the second race there. That definitely gives us confidence coming back to the track.”

Denny Hamlin Wins Michigan

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