Denny Hamlin will make his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start of 2012, driving the No. 18 GNC Franchising Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in Saturday's Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. KBM's flagship Tundra will be sporting a new primary sponsor this week, GNC Franchising. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., GNC Franchising has been the No. 1 Vitamin Retail Franchise for 22 years in a row with more than 7,100 retail locations throughout the United States and 45 international markets.
If racing at the track dubbed as the "Tricky Triangle" was a college class, then Hamlin would definitely be the "Professor of Pocono." The Virginia native achieved immediate success at the 2.5-mile Tri-oval, sweeping both races from the pole as a Sprint Cup Series rookie in 2006. Over 13 career Cup Series starts at the venue, the 31-year-old driver has totaled four wins, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He has one previous Truck Series start in the Keystone State, posting a ninth-place finish in the inaugural event in 2010.
Hamlin, who has competed in 13 career Truck Series races, made two starts in his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate's Tundra during the 2011 season. In his KBM debut last October, he became the 23rd driver in history to collect at least one win in each of NASCAR's top three divisions when he drove the No. 18 Toyota to victory in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. He returned to the truck for the series finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway last November, and came home with a runner-up finish in the rain-shortened event.
The third-year team is hoping that Hamlin's expertise at the "Tricky Triangle" can help propel them to their first win in the Pocono Mountains, as the challenging three-turn track is one of just seven venues on the 2012 Truck Series schedule where KBM has yet to claim victory. The No. 18 Tundra has come up one spot short in each of its first two Truck Series starts at Pocono Raceway - Kasey Kahne piloted the team's Toyota to a runner-up finish in the inaugural event and owner-driver Kyle Busch duplicated that finish in last year's race.