Hamlin Gets Richmond Boost
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on May 3, 2011 | 10:51 A.M. EST
Things are starting to look up for Denny Hamlin. (Photo: Getty Images)
A solid weekend at his home state track has Denny Hamlin feeling better heading into Saturday night’s Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Hamlin won his fourth annual Short Track Showdown late model charity event as well as Friday night’s Nationwide Series Bubba Burger 250 to kick off his weekend at Richmond International Raceway.
And although he came up just short of a three-peat, finishing second to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in Saturday’s Sprint Cup Series weekend finale, Hamlin was pleased with the overall effort in Virginia.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m happy to get a good solid run,” Hamlin said after his runner-up run in the Crown Royal Presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400. “Happy for our teammate. A one-two finish is great for Joe Gibbs Racing. Kyle (Busch) finished second to me here last time in this race so I’m not disappointed. We finally had a race where nothing really went wrong.”
That hasn’t been something Hamlin has had a chance to say in the early going of the season which has been a struggle for the man who finished second in last year’s Sprint Cup championship battle.
A variety of problems have plagued Hamlin since the green flag waved on 2011 at Daytona all adding up to a disappointing start.
It wasn’t the case Saturday night when Hamlin had a fast race car throughout the 400-lap chase on the .75-mile track only trailing his teammate when the checkered flag flew.
“I wanted to win, but we also needed a good, solid finish and we got that today,” he said. I can’t be too disappointed. We got beat by our teammate. That’s the one person you want to beat you. Kyle (Busch) has really worked at getting better on the short tracks and we were just dead equal for the most part. He just got out in front on the restart and we just couldn’t chase him down.”
With nine races in the book Hamlin is still mired in 17th place in the Sprint Cup standings as the circuit sets its sights on Darlington Saturday night.
But with his solid performance in Richmond and confidence as the defending Southern 500 race winner, Hamlin is feeling good about his chances under the lights at the historic South Carolina track.
“I think so,” Hamlin agreed. “I think we have a great shot to win there. We won there last year. This is what we need with our FedEx Freight team is to get back on track. I just can’t say enough for everyone at (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) for kind of sticking with it and we’re going to get back to a top 10."