Joe Gibbs Review: FedEx Autism Speaks 400

Rain was a factor at the Monster Mile, keeping the grip on the concrete track to a minimum. Two drivers spun after hitting "black ice" (slippery rubber buildup) on the entrance to pit road. The Joe Gibbs Racing drivers were not immune and held finishing positions high and low on the leaderboard.

Joey Logano, #20 Home Depot Toyota (Started: 5, Finished: 27)
After having the fifth fastest car in practice and thus qualifying fifth for the race, Logano quickly slipped into position four in the early laps of the race. The car was strong, he was closing on the leaders and then Lap 19 found the Home Depot Toyota spinning across the track. There was no grip on the high side of the track and #20 limped to pit road for repairs.

Logano re-entered the race one lap down in 42nd position. He stayed in the Lucky Dog position until just laps before the competition yellow at Lap 40. David Stremme (#30 Inception Motorsports Chevrolet, start and park) was granted the free pass two laps before the #30 parked. Logano was out of luck and ran nearly the entire race just one and two laps down, but managed to regain a late race high of 21st position.

Lap 388 found Logano in the wall a second time, ruining any chances of a top-20 finish. He settled into a final position of 27th.

Logano dropped to 28th in points standings (-3).

Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx Ground/Autism Speaks Toyota (Started: 25, Finished: 16)
The main sponsor for the #11 car, FedEx, also sponsored Sunday's race in partnership with Autism Speaks. FedEx tweeted several times through the week that if Hamlin won the race, they would donate $100,000 to Autism Speaks. Unfortunately, the cards didn't play in Hamlin's or Autism Speaks' favor. 

Hamlin made it into the teens well before the first 20 laps were completed, but seemed destined to remain there for the other 380 laps. Every pit stop saw adjustments to his car as he reported no grip. At one point he commented the track felt like ice beneath the tires and he fought just to keep his car steady.

Hamlin reached a race high of 13th position just before a caution was called for rain. The #11 went in for four tires and fuel but came out with a speeding penalty and a new position at the tail end of the lead lap.

A well-timed caution at Lap 217 kept Hamlin from going one lap down. The #11 team was able to recover and salvaged a 16th place finish on the lead lap in spite of continued issues with the car's handling.

Hamlin rose to 13th in points standings (+3).

Kyle Busch, #18 M&Ms Toyota (Started: 43, Finished: 4)
Though Busch ran seventh in practice, a blown engine and subsequent pre-race change forced him to start at the back of the field. Never one to disappoint, Busch headed straight for the top-20. At the competition yellow (Lap 40), Busch picked up 11 spots on pit road and found himself in 13th by Lap 50.

By Lap 169, Busch was comfortably inside the top-10 but dropped out by Lap 200. A caution and a solid restart later, Busch was back into the top-10 for good.

At Lap 367, Busch battled Brian Vickers (#83 Red Bull Toyota) for third and took it away. Marcos Ambrose (#9 DeWalt Ford) was in his rearview mirror just a lap later, however. After a two lap battle, the #9 took third away from Busch and he settled into fourth, where he finished thirty laps later.

Busch remains 3rd in points standings (+/-0).
Joe Gibbs Review: FedEx Autism Speaks 400 Joe Gibbs Review: FedEx Autism Speaks 400 Reviewed by Génette Wood on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 Rating: 5