Posted by kryan June - 20 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Via FedEx Racing

Denny Hamlin Wins at MichiganThe FedEx Racing team was relentless in tuning their #11 Toyota, took advantage of excellent fuel mileage and timely cautions, and used a brilliant late-race drive from Denny Hamlin to score its first victory of the 2011 NASCAR season Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

Quick work on pit road for two tires during the final caution with eight laps remaining gave Hamlin the lead for the final restart, and he held off a hard-charging Matt Kenseth over the final five laps en route to victory lane.

“I think everyone knows that we’ve been strong and today we didn’t look as strong as what we normally do here, but we got it working there at the end,” said Hamlin. “We made a magic adjustment and the car just took off. This is the point in the season where we really need to start hitting our stride, and hopefully we got another good 10 weeks before the Chase starts.”

Hamlin started 10th in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota for the 200-lap event on the two-mile track, but couldn’t find the proper balance in the car for much of the race. Lacking grip throughout, Hamlin searched around the wide racing surface to find speed, not knowing he would benefit the most from his Toyota’s superior fuel mileage

Running in the back half of the top-10 as the laps dwindled, the 30-year-old driver moved up spots while cars in front of him were forced to pit road for fuel with less than 50 laps to go. Hamlin got up to fourth before a caution on Lap 160, when everyone came back in for fresh tires. The FedEx crew held serve, and Hamlin climbed two spots to second on the restart.

Trailing Carl Edwards and conserving fuel to make it to the end, an incident on Lap 191 bunched the field again, and when the cars came to pit road one final time, the two-time defending Pit Crew Challenge winners sprung to action, getting Hamlin out first for the dash to the checkered flag.

“At times we had a 10th place car and at times we had the best car,” continued Hamlin. “We just didn’t get it all put together until right there at the end. I just can’t thank this whole team enough. We had awesome pit stops. They are the ones that got me out in front on that last restart and that’s what we needed to win.”

The victory is Hamlin’s first of 2011, second at Michigan and 17th of his Sprint Cup Series career. He climbed three spots to ninth in the NASCAR standings, now trailing leader Edwards by 77 points after 15 of 26 regular season races.

The series returns to action on the road course at Infineon Raceway, June 26.

Tags : , 2011

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