Struggling Hamlin looking to regain some momentum at big, bad Talladega

Running well at Talladega is all about a good-handling car, finding friends on the racetrack -- and staying out of the "big one," Denny Hamlin writes in his diary.

Updated: October 4, 2008, 2:04 PM ET
By Denny Hamlin

Well, here we are in Talladega, and it's good to be back. This place is like nowhere else we go -- it's really something to see and the racing here is something else, too.

We had a great run here in the spring with a car that was as good as any superspeedway car I've ever had. Sometimes you have a car that handles so well you can almost go anywhere you want to on the racetrack without any issues. That's how it was for this FedEx team here in the spring, so it was a really fun race to drive. I was able to pull up to anyone and push them to the front. At one point, I pushed my teammate Tony Stewart way out in front and we were able to lead a bunch of laps and open up a big gap on the field.

We finished third that day on account of a late caution that dropped us back in the field, but we were really happy with what we found in terms of our aero package and with the way our Toyota engine ran. We've been looking forward to coming back and bringing the same car.

When the Chase started, pretty much everyone circled Talladega on their calendar because it can be so unpredictable and has the potential to really shake the standings up. With so many cars out there running so fast and so close together, anything can happen. You might have a great car and get taken out or just not find anyone to work with and things can go bad in a hurry.

Success at Talladega starts with having friends on the track and knowing how to work together. If you find someone to work with and you have good cars, you can make your way to the front. Some will say the safest place to be is out front, while others will say that it's in the back. But in a restrictor-plate race, trouble can find you anywhere.

With as close as the Chase is, this race could really shake things up. We're still down in 10th place at the moment, but a good run here would give us a nice lift heading to Charlotte and then Martinsville. We've had some tough luck, but we're keeping our heads up and looking forward to finishing out this season on a high note.

We drew the 22nd qualifying spot Saturday, and we hope we can put a good lap in. The field gets shuffled so much at Talladega the way it is, it doesn't really matter where you qualify but it does determine where your pit stall will be.

Hopefully we'll have a good run on Sunday and we can get some momentum to carry us through the end of the season.

Denny Hamlin drives the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry. He shares his weekly thoughts on and off the track with readers with the help of writer Angelique S. Chengelis.