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Denny Hamlin Boosts Toyota's Sprint Cup Hopes

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On: Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 9:25AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Denny Hamlin Boosts Toyota's Sprint Cup Hopes

Denny Hamlin has reportedly signed through 2011 with Joe Gibbs Racing; although no official contract details are available, but it is widely believed Hamlin's contract looks like it is through at least 2011.

That the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup isn’t surprising—he’s qualified for the 10-race playoff for five consecutive years. That he’s leading the point standings? Well, that’s another matter. “It is a little different position than we’ve been in,” Hamlin admitted Friday. “Usually I’m at least 80 or 90 points behind when we get to this race right here.”

“And I’ve always felt like I had to make up points and then I would get even more frustrated if we lost more points to whoever the championship leader was at the time.” Toyota is seeking its first championship at NASCAR’s highest level and Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are the only two Toyota representatives in the 12-driver Chase. After Sunday's race at Kansas, Hamlin who finished 12th, is currently second in the standings, eight points behind Jimmy Johnson. Busch, who finished 21st, is 80 points out.

Many feel Denny Hamlin is Toyota's best chance to bring them their first championship in NASCAR’s top division. "Any big track is good for us at this point," Hamlin said Friday—48 hours before the race at the 1.5-mile Kansas facility. "We're getting ready to get into a swing of a lot of big mile-and-a-half , two mile tracks, and I feel like that was really our bread and butter through the summer months. I feel like we're definitely heading into some tracks that are definitely in our favor, I believe."

Indeed, victories on intermediate tri-ovals Texas and Michigan bookended a torrid summer stretch that, for two months, made the Joe Gibbs racing driver appear to be the clear-cut favorite to unseat Jimmy Johnson for the series championship. Now it's time to go back to those facilities, with Kansas opening a string of three straight races on intermediate tri-ovals, and perhaps setting the tone for the remainder of the chase.

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