by Steve Luvender on March 26, 2013
Floyd Abramson, FedEx delivery driver, will drive the No. 11 Toyota Camry on an interim basis
A successful quarter has paid off for one FedEx carrier — who is about to have the delivery route of his life.
Joe Gibbs Racing officials announced Tuesday that 41-year-old FedEx delivery driver Floyd Abramson of Buffalo Center, IA has been tapped to replace regular No. 11 driver Denny Hamlin while Hamlin recovers from a back injury sustained in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway Sunday.
The 32-year-old Hamlin, battling for the race victory on the final lap of the Auto Club 400 alongside rival and former teammate Joey Logano, was diagnosed with a compression fracture in his lower back after his Toyota impacted a retaining wall head-on. Hamlin is expected to remain sidelined from competition for several weeks while he recovers, which forced Joe Gibbs Racing to evaluate their options for a replacement driver.
"We considered a number of different drivers," Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs said in an announcement at the team's headquarters Tuesday. "Ultimately, we decided it would be in the best interest of our long-time partner FedEx to figure out who'd get the ride while Denny [Hamlin] recovers. After all — they sponsor the car."
Upon learning that FedEx would choose the replacement driver for Denny Hamlin, who sits 10th in Sprint Cup Series points, the worldwide provider of transportation and business services decided to reward one of its own — its top delivery driver at the company in the first quarter of 2013 — with the opportunity of a lifetime behind the wheel of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car.
"Once we found out that we'd get to choose who drove the FedEx Toyota while Denny recovered from his injury, it was really a no-brainer to put our own best driver in the seat," explained Matthew Gerber, Director of Sports Marketing for FedEx. "We always like to reward our employees who put in an exceptional level of effort, and the timing was simply perfect here."
FedEx's decision puts Floyd Abramson, designated as the top FedEx delivery driver for the first quarter of 2013, behind the wheel beginning at Martinsville Speedway on April 6th. Despite no racing experience, Abramson has been employed as a delivery driver for FedEx since 2006, where he has accumulated over 80,000 miles on the road. During Quarter 1 of 2013, Abramson recorded the highest level of customer satisfaction and overall efficiency among all delivery drivers in the company.
"It is an exciting opportunity to get behind the wheel of a different FedEx vehicle next week," said Abramson during the announcement. "The news really came as a shock to me — I mean, I never dreamed I'd be filling in for Denny Hamlin and racing in NASCAR. I think it will certainly be an adjustment having all that extra horsepower from my usual truck, and I'll have to overcome my reflexes of stopping every two minutes to deliver a package."
The decision to have a FedEx delivery driver race came at a surprise to many at Joe Gibbs Racing, which maintains several drivers in their second-tier Nationwide Series roster who were expected to remain on standby in case Hamlin would miss races. Michael McDowell, Elliott Sadler, and Brian Vickers were all rumored to replace Hamlin on an interim basis.
"It's nice to have a fresh face in the series", said Matt Kenseth, Hamlin's teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, "but I was really surprised to hear we weren't putting Michael [McDowell] or Brian [Vickers] in the ride. I thought it was a joke at first."
While it is unknown how long Abramson will pilot Hamlin's car, Hamlin is expected to be sidelined for at least four races while he recovers.
"We're certainly wishing the best for Denny," Gerber said, "and we hope that Floyd can help deliver us a win at Martinsville next week."