Toyota NSCS Richmond Notes & Quotes Denny Hamlin

[media-credit name=”” align=”alignright” width=”253″][/media-credit]TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Denny Hamlin — Notes & Quotes Richmond International Raceway – April 26, 2012

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Are you excited about tonight’s Short Track Showdown? “Yeah, we’re definitely excited about it — excited as long as the weather stays dry for us tonight. We’re looking forward to it and obviously got a great field of cars and obviously NASCAR stars that are going to be participating tonight and just excited to get going. It’s been a task to get all of it put together and everything from all the people that’s been involved. We always look forward to the day after this race and once it’s all over — we just have a lot of fun this weekend. Obviously, running three races we have a really good shot of getting three wins.”

What are your thoughts on the upcoming repaving changes at Bristol? “Well, as far as I know — you can correct me if I am wrong — they’re just going to grind the top. Is that what they’re going to do? I don’t know how a whole lot about it, because I wasn’t in construction but for a little bit of time when I was younger, but there’s rebar in there, so you can’t grind but so much, so I don’t know — I don’t think it’s going to be much different to be honest with you. What we had — if anything maybe the grinding will cause for grip and people are going to run up high anyways, so who knows what’s going to happen. You want to fix it and make it a tough track, you need to pave it. Concrete is not the answer as far as that is concerned. They’re in a box. They have to — they’re trying to do everything they can. I understand that, because the fans want a change. You commend them for trying, but I think that they’re time limited on what adjustments they can really make to that track. As far as repavings, none of us drivers like to see it. I talked with a couple guys who ran the Pocono test and they weren’t overly excited about it after running it, so it’s one of those things — the tracks have to do it or we’re going to have a four-hour delay in the middle of it because we have a pothole in the middle of the track. It’s just a tough box that our cars are running so fast that they have to limit our speed with the tires, so that’s what makes it tough to race on.”

American Muscle

Does winning a Sprint Cup race give you much more momentum than winning any other race? “It’s about the same. It’s a little bit more momentum. You have definitely a lot of congratulations going into a weekend where you expect to get it after the races are over, but for me I think that it’s a great opportunity for us to start some momentum. We’ve got some really good track coming up for us these next months or so that I feel we have ample opportunities to win multiple races, so we feel like that Richmond has always been a good track for us, no matter what. We’re looking more towards in the future the Charlottes and Darlingtons as tracks where we could pick up wins as well, so it’s good to have the momentum going in here. But, you’re only as good as your last race, so if we don’t win tonight that momentum from last week is over with and it’s time to move on.”

What do you think about Travis Pastrana and his yellow motorhome? “That’s the first thing all of us drivers see is when we pull in the motorhome lot and you’re like, ‘What in the world is that thing right in the middle of it,” so his bus is bright — you can definitely see that, but he’s going to be a welcome sight to the Nationwide Series. I think he’s kind of a breath of fresh air type of guy. He’s outgoing. He’s obviously not afraid to take chances and I know personally through talking with him that he’s been waiting to run for a long time and just he’s been fighting to get his leg good enough to where he could do it. Excited to have him as part of all the racing. It’s going to be great for us. Whether it’s going to be the big media buzz that Danica (Patrick) brought to the sport I doubt, but I think that it’s overall good for our sport to have someone like him in it.”

Is it tough when your teammates aren’t having similar success? “The teammate thing, really up until last week we all ran about the same if you look at our statistics from week-to-week. We won the race in Phoenix, but me and Kyle (Busch) have been running pretty close to each other for most part of the year and really we have been running a touch better I guess in the last two or three races, but they’re struggling to find what they need. The good news is for them that they know that our cars are capable of running pretty well, so they’ll figure it out. I’ve talked to really his crew chief (Dave Rogers) as much as or if not more than I talk to Kyle himself, so they get as much information when we talk about our debriefs and everything. And we feel like we’re in a good enough spot now that they’re taking a lot of what we see and applying it to their cars. They’re going to get better here pretty soon — this weekend probably.”

Do you expect the rules to impact Talladega like they did at Daytona? “We hope so. I think that we hope it has the same effect. I think that the pack-racing that we had at Daytona was amazing. I thought it was great racing. The two car tandem didn’t win the race — that’s a good thing. Really, they got us to where we were running a fast enough speed that handling became somewhat of an issue. So, all those things I think will equal good racing at Talladega if they keep everything the way that it was.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued) What type of inspiration has your cousin been for tonight’s Short Track Showdown? “You don’t realize it and even as a kid I always knew that he (Kevin Jones, cousin) has cystic fibrosis, but I didn’t know what there was to it. I was too young to really know until waking up at his house one morning and you see with a bowl of cereal he’s taking all these antibiotics and you’re like, ‘What in the world is all that stuff?’ It affects people with cystic fibrosis every day. Whether you’re healthy or not it affects you. We have a successful lung transplant like he’s had there’s always fears of rejection and he still got to go through all the taking of the pills and everything. It affects you. Everyone knows with that disease they’re so close to a cure that hopefully any money that we raise this weekend will help. The research — I know that we contributed a 150 grand over these next three years to the VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) Research Lab of the cystic fibrosis. Every lit bit of money helps. Obviously, it’s the people that turn out and watch us on TV and things like that today that’s going to help get us closer to a cure because they’re so close.”

How different is running a Late Model at Richmond and have you practiced in your Late Model? “We got to run a little bit last week. We weren’t as blazing fast as what I thought we could be or would be, but really that’s the exciting part of it. People think Cup drivers can just go into a Late Model race and dominate. It’s just not like that now. We would be, in my opinion, more likely to go into a Truck Series race and win as we would a Late Model race at any local short track. Just simply because those guys that run those tracks every single week and get tuned in — even though they don’t run these, they’re running these cars, it’s hard to compete with these guys. So for us, when we have a chance to do it it’s a lot of fun and I know that just talking through Kyle (Busch) and Joey (Logano) and Jeff (Burton) and those guys and Aric (Almirola) — they’re excited about the challenge because it is a challenge. It’s not a cakewalk coming in here and being competitive.”

How much have you had to add to your schedule to get ready for tonight’s Short Track Showdown? “It’s a lot. Really, I lean on everyone from the Foundation to the management team to help as much as possible. They do as much as they can to kind of shield me from the day-to-day operations of it because it is a headache at times. When we have a successful event like we’ve had these first four years that’s what kind of makes it worthwhile for us to keep bringing it back and keep giving all those Late Model guys opportunities to be a part of it. As long as we continue to put people in the stands and race cars on the race track, we’re going to keep doing it because obviously we see the difference it is making. Just here right in the local area itself.”

Will there be much tandem racing at Talladega and do you have a partner? “No. Well, I haven’t had a drafting partner for about a year now. So, I just kind of run in the pack and — it worked out well for us at Daytona. We kind of did our own thing and obviously I had a great shot to win. If the rules stay the same it will be a pack mostly because the temperatures were just so high at Daytona. So, I think that you really won’t have a partner until the very end when you try to link up on the last restart or something like that — like we tried to do at Daytona.”

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