Denny Hamlin finished sixth in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, starting on the pole and leading twice for 27 (of 160) laps in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota en route to his 11th top-10 finish of the 2012 season.
Battling a tight condition in traffic throughout the second half of the event on the famed 2.5-mile oval, Hamlin took the checkered flag behind winner Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hamlin took the point position from the outset, beating outside polesitter Carl Edwards to the lead on the backstretch of the opening lap, leading the race’s first 26 laps. Johnson passed Hamlin on pit road during the race’s first green flag pit stop, as the #11 team settled into second place.
A restart nearing the race’s midpoint saw Hamlin take the green flag in second, but the car shot up the track in Turn 2 and Hamlin slipped in the running order back to 14th. From there, Hamlin worked with crew chief Darian Grubb on changes to help free up the car, and Hamlin drove back up into the top-10 for the final dash to the finish line.
Hamlin remains fifth in the NASCAR standings following Indianapolis, 64 points behind new leader Earnhardt Jr. after 20 of 26 regular season races.
The Series heads back to Pocono Raceway for Sunday’s 160-lap race on the 2.5-mile ‘Tricky Triangle.’ Arguably Hamlin’s best track on the circuit, the 31-year-old driver has four wins in 13 career Pocono starts, including sweeping both races from the pole in his 2006 rookie season. His 5.8 average starting position is best among active drivers and he has a 9.7 average finish at the track, including eight top-five results. He has led more laps at the track (660) than any driver in the last six years, and has led at least 17 laps in 10 of 13 starts, including the last six-straight.
In the June race at Pocono, Denny Hamlin finished fifth, overcoming early miscues to drive through the field. Hamlin restarted fourth following the 160-lap event’s final caution with nine laps remaining but was too tight to challenge eventual winner -- and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate -- Joey Logano.
New York Metro Along for the Ride at Pocono
The FedEx Ground New York Metro district will be recognized for outstanding safety performance with its district code “NYME” on the b-post of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota this weekend at Pocono Raceway. The New York Metro district includes New York City, Long Island, the lower and mid-Hudson Valley, and southern Connecticut.
Q. What are the keys to getting around Pocono?
“In Pocono you have to be very disciplined as you enter turn one. They have marks on the side of the wall and you want to discipline yourself to use those marks so you don’t overdrive the corner. You try to get all the exit speed off of (turn) two as you can -- you shift into fourth (gear) about 200 yards past turn two to try to get that long run right before you get to the tunnel turn. For my approach, I try to arc into the tunnel turn just as wide as I can to make sure I get that long, low line on the exit of the tunnel to make sure I get a good line into turn three. Into turn three, you’re just trying to carry all that speed you can.”