Toyota NSCS Las Vegas Notes & Quotes — Denny Hamlin

[media-credit name=”” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Denny Hamlin — Notes & Quotes Las Vegas Motor Speedway – March 9, 2012

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How do you feel entering the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway? “We’ve got a different kind of flavor — different race tracks in the first five races of our schedule. Kind of get to analyze our program and where we’ve taken steps in the off-season and where we need to keep on working. This will be another step this weekend to analyze our program.”

What is the ‘Denny Hamlin gambling scale?’ “I don’t own a race team so I have plenty of money. Race team is like a boat — you just throw money into it and it just disappears.”

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What feedback did you get from the team following the Phoenix win? “Really talking to my guys throughout the entire week. They all came out here — didn’t go back home. They came out here directly. Just talking to them through texts and such, it seemed really like our team has got a lot of confidence right now. Even the guys working on it back at the shop and here at the race track. It just seems like everyone’s really happy with the way things are going right now. We know we still have some steps to take. We’re not going to settle and say, ‘We’re good and everything’s great.’ Even though we won last week, we still have strides in which we need to improve on.”

How would you compare you current mindset to your mindset at the end of 2011? “It’s a lot different. I go into this weekend excited about what is Darian (Grubb, crew chief) going to do this week? How is he going to make adjustments on the car? Can we take our program to where we don’t go to the race track and have the best car and can we win with it that weekend? He did that last weekend. I’m constantly now going to the track excited about our outlook and instead of counting down the weeks until it’s all over. Obviously, last year not being competitive for most of the year until the very end when we ran some top-10s and top-fives, but it was just kind of go through the motions. Right now, you’re more optimistic about what you’ve got in front of you.”

Have you reflected on where you’ve come in your career? “Not really and you think about it and put it in perspective until you sit down. I was actually staring at the trophy in my hotel room and I was like, ‘I forgot I actually used to work at Subway’ because it’s been 15 years ago, but it’s still a part of my life and part of me growing up. It’s been such a ride getting to the spot where I am now. Sometimes you forget the peaks and the valleys that you go through to get to the point in which you are right now. It’s amazing to me when you look back at it and thinking I was making $4.75 an hour and I was happy. All I did was spend all my money on the truck I had and that’s all I cared about. Even though things are all great and glamorous right now, it’s like your level of happiness is not that much different to what it was then. It’s just all relative now.”

Were you good at making Subway sandwiches? “Was I good at making sandwiches? Actually I think the only thing I was good at was going back and eating all the cookie dough out of the freezer. Their cookies are really good.”

Have you spoken to Darian Grubb’s son? “Just the update I’ve gotten is that when he’s watching on TV, he was pointing at Tony’s (Stewart) car all the time when it would come on and his mom’s like, ‘No, no, no — wrong car.’ So, he knows that the 11 FedEx car is where his home’s at now. He’s getting there, he’s switching all his gear over — he’s getting there. I think four or five more races or at least one more race win and I think we’ll be good.”

How does racing in Las Vegas then Bristol then California affect you as a driver? “You kind of wish they had all these three west coast races all in a row. Obviously going back to Bristol is a total different mind set then what we’re running this week and then back to a total different mindset when you go to California. I like California, I think the track is aging really well. It’s getting to where that track you can run all over from the bottom to the very top. It takes 10 years to get a surface to do that. We’re going through a stage right now in NASCAR where some tracks are having to get repaved and things like that. We as drivers, I feel like the older surfaces better as long as it doesn’t break apart and tear our cars up. Fontana is one of the most fun race tracks we go to all year long as far as the driver being able to make a difference.”

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