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Race Report: Indianapolis

July 28, 2014

The #11 FedEx Express Toyota started 27th and entered the pits in 21st when a competition caution flag was waved on lap 20. Great pit work by the FedEx crew saw Hamlin pick up five spots after getting fuel, four new tires and a chassis adjustment to tighten up the car.

By lap 45, he was in the lead and ahead of second place by four seconds. He continued to stretch his lead until a green flag stop at lap 55, returning to the famed two-and-a-half-mile oval in 11th. On lap 68 another caution came out just as Hamlin took the lead after green flag pit stops had cycled through. Grubb continued with the team’s strategy and told Hamlin to stay out, but to conserve as much fuel as possible. Worn tires contributed to Hamlin falling back to sixth after the restart.

As the varying race strategies played out, the #11 machine was poised to make one less stop for fuel than the rest of the field. Hamlin made a scheduled green flag pit stop at lap 90 and returned to the race in 28th place. Six laps later, after realizing the tank hadn't been completely filled, Hamlin was forced to pit under caution for fuel in order to get back in sequence with the rest of the field. After restarting 13th with 59 laps to go, Hamlin worked his way up to fifth with 25 laps remaining.

The final caution came out with 20 laps to go with Hamlin running fifth behind Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth. On the final restart, Hamlin worked with his JGR teammates and took advantage of a shot of momentum exiting turn two. Hamlin seized the opportunity and made a daring three-wide pass down the backstretch, catapulting him to third.