Denny Hamlin might look back to the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the one that got away. Hamlin dominated the race only to lose it to pit strategy late in the event. So, as the Sprint Cup Series makes its second stop to the Magic Mile; the second race of the 2012 chase, Hamlin and the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team must put together a winning performance.
The key, of course, will be if Hamlin and the team can eliminate mistakes. If they can do that and go on and win this race, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with down the stretch. But if something again happens to this team on Sunday afternoon, it would mark the third consecutive race where pit calls would’ve hurt the teams’ end result. That said, Darian Grubb is an elite crew chief, and there is no race team that is perfect. It’ll be the team that makes the least amount of mistakes throughout this chase though that takes home the championship.While the team is very much in contention for this years’ championship, minor mistakes have taken them out of stronger finishes the last two races. Pit strategy took them from potentially winning at Richmond two weeks ago and running out of fuel on the final lap in Chicago last weekend certainly didn’t help matters either. However, Hamlin is still fourth in points just 15-points back of the lead and should be a factor at NHMS this weekend. Hamlin has always been a strong force on the flat short tracks throughout his career and his runs at NHMS in July and two weeks ago at Richmond show that he’ll likely be among the contenders throughout the day.
So, as we revisit NHMS this weekend, Hamlin, Grubb, and everyone on the No. 11 team must not dwell on the past and focus on putting a fast car on the track, which should be the case given how strong their short track program is. If they can do just that, the No. 11 may very well be in victory lane when the checkered flag waves at the end of the day. And if that’s the case, this is a team that can use the winning momentum to get even better as the chase continues. A lot of attention should be paid to see how the No. 11 team does this weekend because NHMS could very well be a turning point for this team