When Denny Hamlin gets into his No. 11 Toyota these days, his mind doesn't wander.
It sticks to the present. To the coming NASCAR Sprint Cup season, now just two weeks away, which he will enter with a new crew chief, a new engine and stock-car racing's new electronic fuel injection.
There's no time to think back about a disastrous 2011, in which Hamlin was hampered by blown engines and finished ninth in the driver standings after coming within a whisker of winning the championship the year before.
"We're changing a lot of our mind-set," Hamlin said Tuesday night at Texas Motor Speedway, where he and three other Sprint Cup drivers spent the day in a tire test, making notes for when they come back in April for the Samsung Mobile 500. "Our outlook going into '11 was a lot different than what it is now in 2012."
The outlook should be different.
Hamlin's new crew chief is Darian Grubb, who last year guided Tony Stewart's run to a third Sprint Cup championship. The veteran Grubb was brought in by Joe Gibbs Racing to reset Hamlin mentally as much as technically.
Hamlin, who won both Sprint Cup races at TMS two years ago, admits he didn't drive with much joy last season, and after the disappointing year, he parted ways with longtime crew chief Mike Ford.
"My relationship with Mike, we'd been together so long, it's hard to get refreshed, get excited about a new season when you've been with someone seven or eight years," Hamlin said. "For me, you just grabbed a championship-winning crew chief, you've got a lot of new team members, a lot of them part of a championship-winning team. I'm excited about our outlook."
Hamlin, who tested at TMS along with Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer, said Grubb made a quick impression with his experience, temperament and the information he brought over from Stewart's Chevrolet program.
"He's brought so much to the table in such a short amount of time," Hamlin said. "A lot of the things that we do and have done at JGR for the last 10 years is being changed now, simply because he's bringing a lot of information -- and fresh information. Whether it's right, wrong or indifferent, you get more information and figure out what's right and what's wrong. Things are a lot different now."
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407