NASCAR Fontana Results 2012: Denny Hamlin Makes Ill-Timed Pit Stop

With rain in the air and uncertainty as to whether it would be just a passing shower or the beginning of a downpour, Darian Grubb was in a position no crew chief wants to be in just past halfway in Sunday's NASCAR race in Fontana, Calif.

Grubb was faced with a decision: Does he call his driver Denny Hamlin into the pits and give up his second-place position in the running order or does he stay out with the rest of the leaders to get a better result?

Grubb opted to pit, and when the sky opened up moments later, there was Hamlin – who had started on the pole and led the opening two laps – sitting 11th with no chance to reclaim the track position he had just lost.

RESULTS: Find the full NASCAR results from Sunday's Fontana race here.

"I feel we took the safe move," Hamlin said. "The risky move was to stay out. If this goes back green, Tony (Stewart) is going to have to restart way in the back and it's going to really hurt your chances of winning the race. For us to give up some positions, it looks like we'll give up about nine positions and finish 11th, or we'll have a good chance to win it if it goes back green."

Grubb defended his decision afterward by saying it looked to him as if the rain would blow over. If that proved to be true, Hamlin would have come out ahead and would have been in good shape to score his second of the year.

Alas, it didn't happen and instead Hamlin was left explaining his crew chief's decision to come in for fuel and tires.

"This is the strategy that we made," Hamlin said. "We were planning on the race going back green. If it doesn't, then we'll lose some spots. If we chose to stay out there, then we were going to have to be behind all the cars that pitted. Then your chances of winning decreases greatly.

"You either give up a few spots if it finishes up here, or you lose a chance to win in the grand scheme of things."

If there is a silver lining in the rain clouds, it's that for the first time since their win at Phoenix three weeks ago, the No. 11 was back running up front among the leaders.

But with a chance to win washed away, looking at the positives was not something Hamlin was immediately prepared to do.

"A little bit," Hamlin answered when asked if he was frustrated. "We have a top-two or (top-)three car – had it all day. We just now got it to where we can run these guys down and get to Tony and then it rains. It's just one of those things."

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