Denny Hamlin hoped for better on Sunday after starting the Aaron’s 499 behind the wheel of the No. 11 Toyota Camry. Hamlin had no intentions of finishing the race at Talladega Superspeedway and after the first caution gave up his seat to Brian Vickers.
On lap 25 Hamlin pulled the FedEx Toyota down pit road to the attention of his crew. As Hamlin exited the car though the roof hatch, Vickers entered the car.
“The exchange went great,” Hamlin said. “Really, that was about as smooth as it’s went for us. Obviously, we’ve had a few repetitions at it. That was about the quickest that I was able to get out so everything went well. I had a checklist in the car with things that I needed to do before I got out to switch over for the next driver. Everything really went seamless and painless.”
It did not take long before Vickers was caught in a wreck damaging their call and ruining hopes for a strong points day.
Vickers was part of a 16-car accident that started when Kyle Busch got into Kasey Kahne.
What the team got was 10 driver points. A small sum but more then the team would have accumulated without Hamlin starting the race. Hamlin will start the Saturday night race at Darlington and joked during the rain delay at Talladega that his back hand healed up enough that he could return to the car for the conclusion of the Aaron’s 499.
Hamlin is currently 31st in driver points, 76 points behind Kurt Busch for the 20th spot in the standings.
The top ten drivers and two wild cards qualify for the Sprint Cup Chase. Wild card drivers must finish the first 26 races inside the top 20 in points.
With Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick both outside the top-ten with wins it will be pressing for Hamlin to notch a second win of the season as he is 121 points behind the 12th place Harvick.