Toyota Racing – Denny Hamlin
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Michigan International Speedway – August 9, 2019
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin was made available to the media in Michigan:
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How was first practice?
“Everyone was in qualifying trim, so no one ran around each other, and everyone is running wide open, so it was uneventful from that stand point. You kind of got a good idea of where your car was on speed. I think ours is probably a couple tenths off from a pole winning car, but if we can be somewhere in the top 12-13, we will pretty happy.”
Do you think anyone will use the traction compound that is up there?
“No. Not today. I don’t think it will be used in the race very much. It is so high up there that the distance is going to be too much because people on the bottom will be running so much throttle. It’s just a shade too high to be useful right now.”
Do you think it should have been moved down?
“I think Goodyear didn’t want us to move it down because worries about tires.”
How has the season been going for you?
“It’s been going as good as we could hope. I think we have done a good job in the regular season of getting playoff points and those are the important things you are going to have to have if you are going to get to Homestead. We’ve done pretty good so far; we are pretty happy about where we are at.”
You think there will be a lot of side drafting here?
“I think side drafting will be an important part of how we execute passes. I think you are going to have time those side drafts in good places up on the racetrack. I’m looking forward to see how it all plays out and hopefully we are on the right end of it.”
How prepared do you feel about this weekend?
“Good, I hope. I think that the race here a month ago was our worst race of the season. The stats said we were like the 19th fastest car during the race. We finished 11th and we expect fully to recover from that and to have a good race. I know my crew chief does a great job of making adjustments whenever he sees that we did something wrong. I’m actually excited to get the race going and see how we stack up now that we have more information.”
Talk about your crew chief, Chris Gabehart.
“Yeah, he’s just a great crew chief. He does things a lot differently than I’m used to, but it has been working good, so I have embraced it.”
The last seven races here have been won by a Ford or a Chevy, does that make it more of an emphasis?
“It doesn’t make us put a point of emphasis. If you look at the tracks that are in the playoffs, I don’t know that there is a two-mile, wide open track like this one. So, we don’t spend any more time on this than any other race to be honest. We focus every week to win that week; we don’t go out and build special cars for Michigan because it’s home to the big three. We enjoy when we come here and run well. I think it’s a little more coincidence than we haven’t won here in a few years.”
You are solidly in the playoffs. Does that affect how you run at the end of stages?
“We are fourth in the points right now. We are just a handful behind (Kevin) Harvick. We are somewhat in our own race. We would like to win stages. We would like to win this race, but if not, we are going to do everything we can to gain points on the three guys in front of us. We’ve scored the most points over the last six or seven weeks and, certainly, we’ve closed the gap on the leader in the points by a significant amount. Maybe they just have one or two more bad races in the next few, we could really make a run at getting up even higher in the points. That will pay us more playoff, which will make our job to get to Homestead easier. We race each race individually to gain as many points as we can and grab as many playoff points as we can.”