Toyota Racing – Denny Hamlin
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quotes
LINCOLN, Ala. (October 11, 2019) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin was made available to media at Talladega Superspeedway:
DENNY HAMLIN, No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Does it feel like 205 miles per hour in the car? Does it feel any different than in the past?
“Yeah, it didn’t. I didn’t even know what lap it was because all the laps I was kind of in the middle of the pack. It doesn’t feel any different, especially with this big spoiler. It just feels like the cars are really planted to the race track. It really caught me off guard to see what it was.”
Do you expect the speeds to come down?
“I don’t think so. I think they’ll probably kind of stay where they’re at, I would think. In practice you always kind of have those anomaly laps that are out there, but yeah, I wouldn’t suspect anything that would be different.”
Do you anticipate any sort of freaking out by people that you guys are hitting over 200 miles per hour?
“Only insurance companies.”
Does it feel like a whole different brand of racing here at Talladega now that there is so much talk about team and manufacturer alliances because when you started it wasn’t always like this?
“No, it wasn’t. It’s really morphed itself into that, especially the fall Talladega race has become more of a manufacturer get-together type of racing. Essentially, when you look at it, there’s guys that are above the cut and then below the cut that are with the same team, so I don’t know that some are going to be okay with the others, pushing the others to get more points. I think that there’s going to be a lot of selfishness when it comes down to the end of this thing.”
Do you want to try and control the race by being in the front or sitting in the back and avoiding the crash?
“You try to play the percentages and figure out where you need to be. You obviously want to be up front because the leader doesn’t wreck too many times, but second place does and on back. The odds increase with every different position that you’re in. You’ve just got to, as a driver, kind of analyze the situation and look around and see how anxious everyone is. Do you sense a wreck and if you sense it, it’s probably coming. That’s where you’ve really got to trust your instincts and put yourself in the best place possible. Sometimes that’s backing out and getting out of it and seeing how it plays out.”
Is this one of the more mentally exhausting races that you run at Talladega?
“Yeah, it has its moments. It does get calm. It’s going to get calm at some point of the race. It’s going to get single-filed out. It’s going to be the same old, kind of Talladega. It’s when you get to the end of the stages and you get to the end of the race where things are really going to change. I’m interested to see how it plays out because I think like anyone, I don’t know. We’re all guessing.”
Will it be intense and aggressive for the Playoff guys even though this isn’t a cutoff race?
“I just look at three of the most aggressive guys as far as making side-to-side, aggressive blocks and moves and it’s (Joey) Logano, the 9 (Chase Elliott), and the 12 (Ryan Blaney) and they’re all right there on the cut. I don’t want to be anywhere near that. I think that it’s going to be more intense for sure at the end of the stages because I think a lot of people are just going to be battling for that.”
Will drivers like you be more conservative since you’re not on the cut line?
“I don’t know. I’m just going to have to see how it plays out and see where I qualify and all that. Everything plays a factor into what I decide to do at the end of stages and the end of a race.”
At Kansas next week, will you be able to tell which guys are on the bubble and which guys are under pressure just by looking at them?
“Not really. You don’t see it on the outside, but you definitely see it maybe in the car the way they’re driving or restarts or something like that. No, you can’t – I don’t know. Everyone is so different nowadays. You don’t know what’s their nervous face and what’s their normal face.”
Do you feel like with your experience, you’re going to be more calm or better at handling it if you’re on the bubble?
“I hope so. I hope I’m not in that situation first, but if I am, then I’m just going to do the best job that I can do at that particular race and not worrying about what anyone else is doing. All I control is like the best finish for myself. I can’t be worried about strategy. That’s the crew chief’s job. I can’t worry about the car setup. That’s the crew chief’s job. The best I can do is drive it to the best of my ability, give the best information and let the results fall where they may. I’m confident if we can do that and we execute a decent race this weekend, our performance will be plenty next week.”
Did Kyle Larson winning last week shake the Playoffs up at all? Did he claim a spot that people didn’t necessarily think he might?
“I don’t know. I think that his team has been so good over the last probably two months or so that it wasn’t unexpected from us. I think that on performance, I thought that this is the best his team has been sustained for performance for a while. I would’ve counted him in as one of the eight guys even if he hadn’t won.”
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