Toyota NSCS California Notes & Quotes — Denny Hamlin

[media-credit name=”” align=”alignright” width=”200″][/media-credit]TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Denny Hamlin — Notes & Quotes Auto Club Speedway – March 23, 2012

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How has your season been heading into the fourth race of the season? “We’re four weeks in. We’ve had two good weeks and two bad weeks — obviously, coming off the two bad weeks. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like this weekend we have a little bit more speed than we’ve had in Vegas at the other 1.5-mile race track, which I always consider this a 1.5-, two-mile anyways. We’re getting better. We have some good stuff coming I feel like with our team. We’re heading in the right direction.”

What were the airplane issues you experienced trying to get to the West Coast? “It was yesterday. Basically it was just an exhaust duct issue, which we had to turn around and come back. That was about it. Nothing major, just normal people have it all the time. You just don’t really hear about it. There were just three of us. It’s resolved and got us here.”

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What are your thoughts on the appeal process Hendrick Motorsports went through for the recent penalties? “I feel like if they were right, then they shouldn’t have gotten fined at all. It’s either all right, or all wrong. I don’t know how you can be partially right and partially wrong on some things. They looked at everything they saw, and they saw there wasn’t enough for points or anything like that, then no issue — it never hit the track and don’t do anything. You either have to do it all or not at all. NASCAR handed out the penalty they thought they deserved and then one individual that took all the individual thought that they didn’t. It is what it is — it doesn’t matter from our standpoint. It’s just weird that some things get taken away and some doesn’t. It seems like it should be a black and white issue.”

How’s your chemistry growing with crew chief Darian Grubb? “It’s good. I feel like we’re slowly getting where we need to be. Obviously the more races we get under our belt, the better the communication is going to be during racing situations. I am very optimistic that by the time we get to the summer months and get to some good race tracks, that everything is going to be good. He’s been very good with our team. I feel like he’s been very good asset within our race shop and changing the character around there. I think everything is headed in the right direction.”

What is it like to have another Toyota team like Michael Waltrip Racing being competitive on the race track? “It’s big for us for Michael Waltrip Racing to be competitive. The more competitive teams you have under one manufacturer, the more information you can use. Obviously we have some what of an alliance between Gibbs and Michael Waltrip Racing anyway, but I know from hanging around Michael quite a bit how much effort he puts in — he is a hands-on car owner and it’s just now coming to fruition for him of what he always hoped for and that was race winning competitive race teams. He’s put a great team together. Obviously now, with them running as good, no we’re looking at what they have to try to help us. It all comes back around. There’s going to be times when our team runs better and they’re going to need information. With the limited amount of really Toyota teams that there are, we’ve got to work that much tighter together and I feel like Toyota has done a great job of bringing their jobs together — especially this year.”

How would you feel about the Bristol Motor Speedway track being redesigned? “I don’t know how they’ll do it. If they just pave the race track and stop concreting them, they’ll be fine. It’s just when they had the paved Bristol back in the day — and I remember watching because I was a race fan growing up — that was awesome racing. Everyone was fighting for the one groove and everything. But, when they keep concreting the race tracks you’re kind of stuck with it now. The grooves don’t move around as much, things like that. I personally like pavement better. I think pavement would be better around that race track. So, if he wants to spend the money — do that. Otherwise I don’t know how you would reconfigure it to try to make it the old Bristol. It was the old Bristol because it was old. The surface was old and beat up. There was no high line. You had to carve the bottom. It would be hard to duplicate that.”

How do you form a bond with a new crew chief? “It’s my first time going through a crew chief change other than like on the Nationwide-side early in my career. So, maybe someone who’s been through a lot of them could tell you better, but I’m still learning the process of getting to know someone on a personal and a professional level. For me, I don’t know if I’m the best person to ask. We’re just kind of going as we go — talking about our cars as much as we can and it’s been pretty professional from the get-go.”

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