Hamlin crew chief can’t wait until team starts executing

FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 31: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on March 31, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

After Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag for the second time this season Sunday at Texas, crew chief Chris Gabehart quipped over the radio, “I can’t wait until we start executing.”

Gabehart’s mixed emotions are understandable.

With a speeding penalty, an uncontrolled tire and Hamlin simply missing the pits during one scheduled stop, the crew chief’s concerns are warranted.

“Every race thus far I can point to key scenarios in the race that had we fixed that, whatever that is, it’s been different every week, we would have finished better than we finished,” Gabehart said. “We haven’t optimized our races yet. That’s encouraging now.”

In his first season with the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry team—and his first year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series—Gabehart still feels there is room to grow.

“You’re racing against the best teams in the world,” he added. “It’s difficult to have a flawless race. It’s not an easy thing. It’s one thing to identify, it’s another thing to fix. That’s something we got to work on.

“The exciting thing is we never leave the racetrack guessing where we could have did better. So in that regard, we definitely haven’t reached our potential.”

Greg Engle