Denny Hamlin will look to repeat the success of his last visit to Bristol Motor Speedway at the Food City 500.
Hamlin waited until late in the August 2012 race to pass Carl Edwards and take his third win of the 2012 season, leading 70 of the 500 laps. He has a strong record at Bristol, scoring seven top-10 finishes, including for straight top-six finishes between March 2008 and August 2009, and leading 352 laps in 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at the World’s Fastest Half Mile.
“Our Bristol win last summer was one of the biggest victories of my career.” said Hamlin. “No track ever owes you a win, but throughout my career, we had been close at Bristol before, leading late and having something happen. Last year, our car was so good and we kept making it better and better through the night. I knew I had to get to the lead as soon as possible, because if another caution came out, I would’ve had to restart on the bottom, which would’ve been tough. Bristol is such a historic track and it was great to get our FedEx team into victory lane. Now, I want to do it again.”
Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, finished 15th in last week’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a race eventually won by his Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Matt Kenseth.
A pit stop penalty played havoc with Hamlin’s Las Vegas race after he entered the pits too fast on lap 116, dropping him off the lead lap and out of pit sequence with the leaders. He regained his place on the lead lap under caution on lap 161 due to getting the free pass and restarting in 17th place.
Another caution saw most of the leaders pit for service, but crew chief Darian Grubb decided to keep Hamlin out to gain track position. He lead at the restart and with less than 50 laps to go had settled in to a top-five position.
A quick stop for two-tyres and fuel with 42 laps to go could have seen Hamlin leapfrog the field had it stayed green, but a caution came out soon after, trapping him a lap down. After receiving the free pass again, Hamlin managed to move up to fifteenth place by the chequered flag.
Hamlin sits in the Sprint Cup standings, 27 points behind championship leader Jimmie Johnson after three rounds of 26 regular season races.