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Hamlin starts at Talladega, climbs out at caution

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm •  Published: May 5, 2013
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That long journey back is why he decided to start Sunday and race for a little bit. He got assistance from good friend Michael Waltrip, a fellow Toyota driver, who dropped to the back of the field, and former teammate Tony Stewart, who also agreed to drop back, so they could all draft with Hamlin and protect him from losing the draft while avoiding trouble.

Hamlin later revealed that Juan Pablo Montoya and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also came to the back to help him.

"I've got to thank all of the drivers, Montoya and Stewart and Michael and Stenhouse that really sacrificed the first part of the race for me and I can't thank them enough. It means a lot as a driver to have your peers that have got your back like that," Hamlin said. "Tony actually approached me at my charity event last weekend and said 'I want to work with you depending on what your plan is for Talladega.'

"Me and Tony for whatever reason, when we stopped becoming teammates, we started becoming teammates. We've been closer off the race track and on the race track now that he's with Stewart-Haas than ever when we were with Gibbs. We've got a great relationship and he's had my back really for the last three years."