Home Cookin For Hamlin
October 17, 2008 | 11:45 A.M. EST
Hamlin may have more laps around the .526-mile track than anyone in Sunday's Tums QuickPak 500 field with his extensive late model stock car experience at Martinsville.
Since moving up to NASCAR's top division, Martinsville has been one of Hamlin's best tracks which includes a win when the series visited back in the spring.
Hamlin led a total of 82 laps in March to claim his fourth career Cup win and add to his pole win in the spring 2007 race
Last year Hamlin sat on the pole for the spring race and led 125 laps before finishing third.
His history at the "paper clip" dates back to his late model career and racing in the annual “Taco Bell 300” and “Bailey’s 300” on five occasions from 2000-2004. Hamlin won the pole for the race in 2003 and recorded finishes of 15th, 12th, 7th, 10th and 3rd, respectively.
Now he's looking to get back to victory lane and add to his lone series win of the year.
"Well we definitely didn't think that win in March would be our only win of the season coming back to Martinsville six or seven months later but it just reminds you of how hard it is to win races in the Cup Series," Hamlin said. "To win at Martinsville was huge for me because, like Richmond, it's a home track.
"I know so many of my family, friends and fans come to this race and they have been supportive of me from the days when I was running Late Models here. So to come back here after making it to the Cup series - win a pole here last season and then to take the grandfather clock home this Spring was unreal."
With five races left in the season, Hamlin is hoping a good run at Martinsville will bring the year to a close with a great deal of momentum.
"The spring race here helped turn around some bad luck from the week before at Bristol - where we ran well and had mechanical issues at the end - and then gave us some momentum for a really good stretch of races for this team," Hamlin said. "There is something about coming back to a familiar place like Martinsville."
"I'm sure I have turned more laps here than I have anywhere else considering I raced here growing up and just coming back to a place like this gives me and this whole team confidence. It's a track I know well and it's the kind of track that I still think is my strongest - short, flat tracks that really test your car control."
Although the Chase hasn't gone as Hamlin and company had planned, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver knows the tools are there for more success in the future.
"We're not at all happy about the way this Chase has gone for us but it's not about a lack of effort," he said. "A good run here could go a long way toward having a strong end to the season because we like the tracks we have left on the schedule and would like nothing more than end this season on a high note."