Blog: Hamlin's success started in Phoenix?
by Paul Corliss
Hamlin delivering race tickets to lucky Valley PIR fans.
Just eight months ago, Denny Hamlin was visiting the Valley of the Sun on behalf of Phoenix International Raceway, delivering race tickets to lucky PIR fans in a Fed-Ex truck. Fast forward to the 2010 NASCAR season and it’s looking more and more like Hamlin is poised to deliver Joe Gibbs Racing its first Sprint Cup championship since Tony Stewart brought home the hardware in 2005.
“All we do is win baby!” Hamlin whooped to his crew over the radio last weekend just before taking the checkered flag at Michigan International Speedway – his second win in a row. Denny the dominator? That moniker fits as well as any for Hamlin, who has now won five races in his last 11 starts.
What’s been the key to Hamlin’s recent Sprint Cup domination? One theory suggests that everything started to come together for Hamlin at Phoenix’s SUBWAY Fresh Fit 600™ on April 10.
On paper, Hamlin’s 30th place finish at PIR – two weeks after winning at Martinsville – was a disappointment. But the box score didn’t mention that Hamlin had major knee surgery on a torn ACL just 10 days before the SUBWAY Fresh Fit 600™.
After gritting his teeth and gutting out 375 painful laps at PIR, Hamlin met with the Arizona Republic’s Michael Knight and said: “It was just a miserable experience … I'm in more (pain) than I could tell you.”
That grueling experience at PIR, however, served to galvanize Hamlin’s No. 11 team and earned him a measure of respect from his team and crew. Owner Joe Gibbs may have put it best when he told Knight that Hamlin “showed great courage” in Phoenix.
Since that gutty performance at PIR, Hamlin and the No. 11 have been nearly unstoppable and are showing no signs of a letdown. The Virginia-native has been working his way up NASCAR’s Sprint Cup standings week after week and now finds himself in third place with just 11 “regular season” races to go – a mere 47 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick.
"To know you're competitive for a win week in and week out gives you a lot of confidence,” Hamlin said told USA Today this week. “For the first time in my career, I feel like we're at that place.”
And perhaps that measure of confidence – for Hamlin, for his crew and teammates – all started here in Phoenix.
Tickets for 2010 at Phoenix International Raceway can be purchased online at http://PhoenixRaceway.com or by calling 1-866-408-RACE (7223). The PIR Ticket Office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 125 S. Avondale Blvd., just south of I-10 at Exit 131 in Avondale.
Related PIR News
Denny Hamlin took advantage of some of that free time to hit the links in the Waste Management Phoenix Open Annexus Pro-Am on Wednesday. Hamlin, the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, was grouped with fellow FedEx spokesman and Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate Jerome Bettis and defending PGA TOUR FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel.
Phoenix International Raceway and NASCAR have announced that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500, scheduled for Sunday, March 15, will kick off at 12:30 p.m. MST, while the NASCAR XFINITY Series race is scheduled for 1 p.m. MST on Saturday, March 14. Both races will broadcast live on FOX. The Toyota 120 NASCAR Mexico Series Race on Friday, March 13, is set for 7 p.m. MST on NBC Universo.
In an effort to enrich communication with fans, Phoenix International Raceway launched a new design for its website, PhoenixRaceway.com, to kick off the 2015 season. Featuring a data-driven, more engaging user experience, the new site includes a crisp, vibrant design as well as streamlined navigation and enhanced fan content.
Kevin Harvick drove his No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet car to Gatorade Victory Lane in Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500, but the race itself was a winner for Phoenix International Raceway. The track sold out of grandstand seats a week before the race and sold out of reserved camping spots more than two months early.
Kevin Harvick dominated Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500, leading 264 of the 312 laps in his No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet on the way to Gatorade Victory Lane to conclude Phoenix International Raceway’s 50th anniversary season. The win clinched a place for Harvick in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Round next Sunday in Miami.