Toyota NSCS Bristol Notes & Quotes — Denny Hamlin

TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Denny Hamlin — Notes & Quotes Bristol Motor Speedway — March 16, 2012

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing What are your thoughts about the Bristol race? “We come in here with a little bit of optimism — knowing that it is a short track and what we found last week is kind of our weakness. It’s kind of the direct opposite of that so we feel like we can do some things with the car to make some differences and try to capitalize on a win this weekend. We’ve been close here before and ran really competitive here before. Just haven’t got a race win. The spring race has typically not been that great of one for us so we hope to turn that around this weekend.”

What are your impressions of Cole Whitt and Austin Dillon? “Pretty impressed with both of them. Honestly, they’ve got some high expectations because they’re stepping into some very, very good cars. Right now, I feel like they’re both kind of living up to expectations. They’re doing kind of exactly what you would hope that they would do, not what you necessarily thought they would do. I think they’re doing a very, very good job. I’ve watched them a little bit and it just seemed like they’ve both got the talent to make it. You can see it right from the beginning. Some drivers have the speed and can go and not tear up equipment right from the beginning and it looks like those two especially have that and that’s what can make you successful not just at that level, but the following one.”

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Would you prefer for driver’s meetings to be closed to fans? “I don’t know. I think there’s a time and place for fans’ presence. I think that there’s some times that we can be too accessible at times and I think that saturation is what makes people disinterested in those moments that they can actually because they know they can see us in 20 minutes or somewhere later. I think that it’s unlike any sport — to get more people in an arena, they don’t let people in the locker room. That’s kind of our space I feel like — with NASCAR, with executives from different companies. I think that it (driver’s meeting at Las Vegas Motor Speedway) went fine and well and I didn’t think anything was wrong with it, but how does it work at other race tracks? I don’t know. I’m all for giving fans access because they’ve got access to our phones now so they’ve got everything that they need. They’ve got great events that they’re getting to watch. It seems like pit road and all that stuff is getting so crowded nowadays and nothing bad has happened so it’s all been okay. Eventually it’s just going to be over saturation.”

Will the new timing lines on pit road make a difference? “It will matter. I think that there were a handful of boxes that had humungous advantages over others and I think that that’s going to change that quite a bit. I do think it is needed because if you have a pit road speed — and Martinsville is another track where they need to add some lines — that speed is set at that mile-per-hour because that’s where they feel safe with those cars driving through pit road. Well, if we’re able to cheat it by 10 miles an hour, that’s cheating it 30 something percent. That’s beyond where they felt initially it was safe, so they need to keep us at that mile-per-hour they want us at and to do that, you need timing lines all over the place so people can’t cheat the line.”

Who do you think will win the NCAA championship? “VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University). No. I’m like 60 percent of the nation — I feel like Kentucky’s got the superior coach, superior talent this year. You never know, it’s all about circumstances I feel like. It’s how they get there. Michigan State is going to be tough — I feel like they are really big on the inside.”

Who did you pick in your ‘final four’? “Michigan State, Ohio State, Kansas, Kentucky. Nope, I’m sorry — North Carolina not Ohio State.”

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