Coca-Cola Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing teased the new scheme on July 1 before Hamlin took on Road America. The companies provided some brief glimpses of a red stock car hidden behind emojis. Four days later, Coca-Cola Racing showed off every angle of Hamlin’s bright red No. 11 Toyota Camry.
The No. 11 features the Coca-Cola red and white colors with massive logos on the hood and the sides. Chrome numbers stand out on the doors while Sports Clips and FedEx associate logos take up space near the rear of the stock car. The front of Hamlin’s car will also include the text, “Real Magic.”
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The Return to Atlanta Provides Hamlin With an Opportunity
The debut of the Coca-Cola scheme will take place near the company’s home base in Georgia. It will also take place at a track where Hamlin dealt with numerous issues earlier in 2022.
The Cup Series veteran headed to Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 20 for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. This race continued a season of struggles for Hamlin and the No. 11 team as he qualified outside of the top 10 and got caught up in multiple on-track incidents.
The first occurred after a tire issue. Tyler Reddick was in the lead on the top lane when his right rear tire went down. He spun and kicked off a wreck that collected 13 cars, including Hamlin’s No. 11. Though they were all able to continue in the race.
The second incident, which ended Hamlin’s day, took place near the end of Stage 2. Hamlin was pushing Kyle Larson when the No. 5 spun to the inside and hit Chase Elliott’s No. 9. The No. 5 rebounded back into Hamlin’s No. 11 before slamming into the wall.
Both Hamlin and Larson had to take their wrecked stock cars to the garage, which ended their days. Elliott was able to continue in the race, and he ultimately finished sixth overall while William Byron won.
Hamlin will now return to Atlanta Motor Speedway with the bright scheme on the No. 11 Toyota. He will try to win every stage, as well as the race, which would help him build up a points cushion before the start of the playoffs. This is part of a new strategy that Hamlin revealed during Throwback Weekend.
“We’ve given up on regular-season points and even getting in the top 10,” Hamlin said during a May 7 press conference. “I’m not even sure. For us, it’s simplified our strategy. We go for playoff points only. So when you see the field start splitting because ‘do they want stage points or whatever,’ you know where the 11 stands from this point on. We’re trying to get five points at the end of the race and two for the playoffs during stages. So it actually simplifies our strategy for the regular season.”
Hamlin Becomes the Latest Driver To Run a Coca-Cola Scheme in 2022
Two of Hamlin’s fellow competitors have raced with Coca-Cola schemes during the 2022 Cup Series season. Though they both drive full-time for a rival organization.
Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez of Trackhouse Racing both showcased Coca-Cola schemes during Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway. They ran tribute schemes highlighting an exhibition race in Japan featuring Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The No. 99 of Suarez had a red base with white Coca-Cola logos, white numbers, and black trim. There was a black and white checkered Coca-Cola bottle on the hood, which matched the scheme used by the seven-time Cup Series champion.
The No. 1 of Chastain was a black stock car that featured red door and roof numbers. The scheme included white snow and the iconic Coca-Cola polar bears. This was a tribute to the car that Dale Jr. used to finish ahead of his father in the exhibition race at Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi.
The trip to Darlington Raceway did not end well for Chastain. He led 26 laps and won Stage 2, but he got loose underneath Hamlin while racing for the lead. He spun into the inside wall and wrecked, which ended his day early.
Suarez, for comparison, started 20th overall in the No. 99 Chevrolet. He didn’t stack up any points during the first two stages, but he avoided numerous incidents during the final stage. Suarez was ultimately able to finish 10th overall in the Coca-Cola scheme.