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Jun 18, 2014 - 04:54 PM
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2014 Sonoma: Denny Hamlin NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jun 18, 2014 - 04:52 PM
2014 Sonoma: Denny Hamlin NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Preview

Michigan Recap: Denny Hamlin finished 29th in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, fighting an ill-handling #11 FedEx Express Toyota throughout the 200-lap race won by Jimmie Johnson. Kevin Harvick finished second, followed by Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard and Kasey Kahne. Hamlin started in 29th and began working his way through the field from the start, moving up to 21st prior to his first green flag pit stop at lap 40. Adjustments made during each pit stop provided more security, and by mid-race, the FedEx crew had moved into the top-20. However, it was short lived, as Hamlin lost the handle and spun in Turn 4 on Lap 122, making slight contact with the outside wall and damaging the right rear bodywork. The FedEx crew made quick repairs during the caution period, but the #11 machine returned to the race two laps down in 32nd. The finish dropped Hamlin four spots to 12th in the NASCAR standings following Michigan, 102 points behind leader Jeff Gordon after 15 of 26 regular season races.


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Sonoma Preview: The Series heads to Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway for the first of two road course races on the 2014 NASCAR schedule. Hamlin owns a pair of top-10 finishes in eight previous starts at the 1.99-mile, 12-turn circuit, including a career-best fifth best result in 2009. Hamlin has led 48 laps at Sonoma. One year ago, the #11 FedEx Toyota started 17th and finished 23rd.

Eureka, Calif., Along for the Ride in Sonoma: For the Toyota/Save Mart 350, FedEx Freight recognizes the company’s Eureka, Calif., service center by featuring the call letters “EKA” on the b-post of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota. The center serves customers in the coastal areas of Northern California and Southern Oregon.

What makes Sonoma so challenging for a driver?

“Sonoma is definitely a slower, more technical track than Watkins Glen, which makes it difficult as the first road course race of the year. You really have to focus on hitting your marks and avoiding mistakes to turn good laps. With the elevation changes and tight corners, every mistake is magnified at Sonoma, and there isn’t really any room to get away from other drivers, so you’re bound to get into some contact before the day is over. We have had some pretty decent runs over the years at Sonoma that we don’t have good finishes for, but hopefully we can start near the front on Sunday, hope that our strategy plays out right and keep the car on the asphalt.”

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