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Grubb, Hamlin a match

TBO.com
Associated Press
The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 02:41 PM

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The hottest crew chief in NASCAR was available, and yet Denny Hamlin wasn't sure he wanted him to lead his race team.

Darian Grubb was out of work just days after guiding Tony Stewart to last year's championship. Stewart won the title with five victories in the final 10 Chase for the Sprint Cup races — and Stewart let him go before they even collected the trophy.

Grubb had job offers from all over the garage, but Hamlin wasn't convinced he was the best fit for the No. 11 team.

Hamlin had been with Mike Ford for his entire Sprint Cup Series career, and he didn't necessarily need to make a change.

But Joe Gibbs Racing was enticed by Grubb, even if Hamlin had to be convinced the crew chief was motivated to chase another championship.

"I was a little more apprehensive that he did just win the championship. I knew that he was mulling offers of not being a crew chief anymore," Hamlin said. "So that scared me a little bit that, 'Hey, what's his drive to go out here and win a championship with me?' He's just won the championship. He's got nothing to prove."

Hamlin was wrong.

He led Hamlin to a dominating win last Sunday at New Hampshire, Grubb's sixth in 12 Chase races dating to last season. Hamlin won a series-best four races during the "regular season" to earn the top seed in the Chase, and the New Hampshire win was a huge lift after a mistake cost the team critical points in the opener.

Hamlin and Grubb now go to Dover ranked third in the standings and seven points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

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