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Hamlin Says His Head Is Back In The Race

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, October 19 2012

Denny Hamlin said he has shaken off the effects of Thursday's wreck. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Gregg Ellman)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Denny Hamlin said Friday that his bell has stopped ringing and that he has no concerns about his physical condition in the wake of a hard hit he took during Thursday’s Sprint Cup test session at Kansas Speedway.

“Feel 100 percent today,” Hamlin said. “Thought I was good yesterday and then obviously I got better with every hour, but today after waking up I’m 100 percent and good to go. Really it’s just business as usual for the weekend.”

Hamlin slammed the wall near Turn 1 on Thursday. He drove the car back to the garages but was then asked by NASCAR officials to visit the infield care center.

He said the hit left him dazed. Rung his bell, he said.

Hamlin is third in points heading into Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 – the sixth of 10 Chase races – at Kansas.

He was asked Friday if he expects increased scrutiny from NASCAR safety officials as a result of his wall whacking.

“They’re persistent anyway,” Hamlin said. “They’re there calling and texting you before you even wake up wanting to check up on you and they do it all the time. Really, in all type of wrecks that I’ve been a part of this year — it’s been the next day and the following day that they continue to check up on you to make sure you’re feeling okay and things like that. It won’t change the way I run. I just think that I’m just the next guy in line that hit a wall hard. When someone wrecks on Sunday, if someone does wreck, they’ll be the next one up that’s got to go through the scrutiny of basically going through the tests, going through all the questions that you have to answer. It won’t affect my weekend, at least for now.”

Stewart-Haas Racing announced Friday that it is restructuring its team lineup beginning with next weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Tony Gibson, currently the crew chief of the No. 39 U.S. Army/Quicken Loans team of driver Ryan Newman, will move to the No. 10 GoDaddy.com team of driver Danica Patrick. Gibson will get a jump start on the 2013 season by serving as Patrick’s crew chief during her last two Sprint Cup races of the 2012 season – Nov. 4 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Nov. 11 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Matt Borland, currently the vice president of competition for SHR, will add to his duties by returning to the role of crew chief when he takes over the No. 39 team beginning at Martinsville. Borland served as Newman’s crew chief for five years when the two were together at Penske Racing (2002-2006), earning 12 wins and 37 poles.

The 2013 structure of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 team of driver/owner Tony Stewart and crew chief Steve Addington will remain unchanged from 2012.

Greg Zipadelli, competition director for SHR, explained the restructuring.

“We have a lot of talented people at Stewart-Haas Racing and as we grow, it’s important to place people in the proper roles to get the best out of everyone.

“Tony Gibson has been with Stewart-Haas Racing from the beginning and knows what it takes to build a team. His experience will be crucial to developing the No. 10 team and Danica, and the rapport he already has with Matt Borland and Steve Addington will make the communication between all three of our teams seamless.

“Matt Borland has had great success as a crew chief, and much of it came when he and Ryan Newman worked together. Matt and Ryan both have engineering backgrounds and they have similar mindsets. It’s a pairing that produced some very good results and there’s no reason why it can’t produce similar results now that they’re back together. Their four races together this year will position them very well for 2013.”

Stewart, who also owns the Eldora Speedway dirt track in Ohio, announced earlier this week that the all-star Prelude to the Dream event will not return next year.

Friday at Kansas, he explained the situation. He said the event will go on “hiatus”.

“It takes a ton of work to put the Prelude on,” Stewart said. “We are changing our format for how we run the Dream that weekend making it a three-day weekend with that series. We are trying to focus on that a little bit more and some changes that we think are going to be better for our late model race. We just needed to take a year off while we focus on that and make sure that we don’t get overloaded for that. The rumor about the Trucks, trust me I would be ecstatic if we could get any NASCAR race at Eldora that would be great. I have talked to NASCAR they have been looking at all kinds of different tracks. It has been brought up in conversation but that is about as far as it has come right now.”

Richard Petty Motorsports and Ford Racing announced today they will continue their manufacturer partnership. The announcement ensures that Richard Petty Motorsports’ two NASCAR Sprint Cup race teams and its Nationwide Series race team will race under the Ford Racing banner into 2013.

RPM has a winning record with Ford Racing. The team has two wins in the Sprint Cup Series and one win in the Nationwide Series with the blue oval. Over the past three seasons, RPM has also earned eight poles, 74 top-10 and 26 top-five finishes with the manufacturer in both the Cup and Nationwide Series.

“Our team relationship with Ford Racing has helped us win races and be competitive in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series,” said Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports. “They have been our partner over the past three seasons and we’re proud to continue that relationship into next season, especially with the debut of the new Ford Fusion in the Sprint Cup Series. We expect to continue to win races and challenge for championships in both series with Ford Racing.”

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, October 19 2012
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