Hamlin sends message at Atlanta - NASCAR Notes - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

NASCAR NOTES: Hamlin sends message at Atlanta

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"

As the race for NASCAR's postseason nears an end, Denny Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing team have sent a bold statement to the rest of the field that they are championship ready.

"I'm just happy to be at the racetrack every single week knowing I can win a race," Hamlin said after the race. "It doesn't matter the racetrack anymore, it's just I know we can win."

The old racing saying that you have to lose a championship before you can win one holds true for Hamlin. His team let a title slip away several seasons ago and have not been able to get another chance at redemption until this year. He is hoping his experience will be an advantage as he enters the playoffs after Richmond.

"The 2010 season was a pressure situation," continued Hamlin. "The team just didn't feel it that final week and so you take that and you take those experiences with you. Experience is something that you can never take away, and it never hurts you."

Another advantage that Hamlin takes with him into this championship race is a proven Crew Chief in Darian Grubb.

"Darian has just taken this program to that next level," explained Hamlin on his new crew chief. "Obviously, anyone can go on a 10-race run. He did it last year and hopefully he's got some of the magic saved up for us here in the next few weeks."

Grubb is the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion crew chief who led Tony Stewart to his surprising title run last year, and he feels that his new team is set for a title run this season.

"We take it one race at a time," said Grubb. "Our car schedule is already done all the way through Homestead. We're already preparing the cars for Talladega and those things. The guys at the shop are doing a great job preparing ahead of time so when we go to the racetrack and unload, we're fast."

With one race remaining in Richmond, Hamlin's team could possibly make it three wins in a row to carry a ton of momentum into the Chase. The only question that remains is how hard they will push for a third consecutive victory. With six other teams needing a win to make it into the playoffs, Hamlin might just opt to play it safe and let them fight it out.

However, I'm convinced that if the opportunity arises in the final laps to capture more bonus points, this No. 11 team will jump on it.

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