Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Kinko's Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway. He discussed how he celebrated after winning in New Hampshire, how plate racing will change here after the transition to the Impala...
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Kinko's Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway. He discussed how he celebrated after winning in New Hampshire, how plate racing will change here after the transition to the Impala SS, his views on Chicago, how it would feel to win at Daytona and other topics.
ON WINNING LAST WEEKEND: "It was a big boost for our race team. Even though it's just 10 points those 10 points are very important to us. I think that's going to kind of propel us to hopefully even more wins with a little less effort."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE IN AN ELITE CLASS OF DRIVERS WHO HAVE A REALISTIC SHOT TO WIN? "I think so. We seem to be a little bit quieter than the rest of the guys. They seem to get a lot of the attention which is great for us because we can maybe make a mistake and no one will notice. I think we're trying to establish ourselves as one of those race teams that's a top three race team and I think we are a top three race team even though they may not get the recognition for it most of the time."
HOW DID YOU CELEBRATE AFTER YOUR WIN? "I went back to my house and saw all my friends had bought every balloon in the local Harris Teeter and it didn't matter what it said. There was a congratulations, there was a get well soon, happy anniversary. I mean every balloon they had they bought so I had a bunch of these balloons and then they also made me a cake and decided in the middle of playing poker they wanted to hit me in the face with the cake so that's pretty much how I celebrated.
"It was fun. For us it was a great night and I had a lot of good guys come and Junior came over and congratulated me. There were a lot of people there that I really appreciated to see."
IS THERE AN EXTRA PUSH TO GET THE VICTORY THIS WEEKEND DURING THE LAST RACE HERE WITH THE CURRENT CAR? "Well you definitely want to do everything you can. It's definitely going to be a different era. You could say this is the last of the era for this car but for the most part I'm excited about going to Car of Tomorrow full time. I think it's going to be a big benefit for everyone. This race track really demands a lot from a driver believe it or not so it's going to be a race that's going to be very, very tough. I think the cars are going to get extremely spread out and we'll see how it turns out."
HOW DO YOU THINK PLATE RACING WILL CHANGE WITH THE IMPALA SS? "It's just going to make them like the truck races really where the guys are just all packed tight together where now our cars are so slick that they're not handling the race track that well and we're starting to spread out and you're starting to see the packs form like they did back in the old days. Now we're kind of going to take a step back and be back where we were. With the Car of Tomorrow I think they're going to suck up to each other so much that you're just going to have a huge wad."
ON WINNING TAKING THE PRESSURE OFF HIS TEAM AND IF TONY STEWART SAID ANYTHING TO HELP BOOST THEIR TEAM? "I think Tony knows that their team is right on the verge just like our team is. For sure it's a matter of time before that 20 team breaks in and gets him a win. They would have won many times if they would have had the luck that we had last week or the luck that we didn't have over the last few weeks. It's the thing where we got our lucky break first and it's just a matter of time before they break through."
ON HOW HE VIEWS CHICAGO AND HOW HE THINKS HE'LL DO THERE: "That's a great race track, mile and a half. It's a track where it's worn out to where it's better than most. As drivers we definitely like a race track where you can move and Chicago is starting to be more and more one of those race tracks. If I remember right I think we were running right on the wall and a few years ago at that track it was kind of unheard of. It's great that we get to go back to a track that's aged and nothing's changed and we know what we got when we get there."
DO YOU THINK THAT TRACKS ON THE CIRCUIT NEED TO BE CHANGED AS FAR AS VARIABLE BANKING LIKE HOMESTEAD AND LAS VEGAS? "Well I hate to see them pave any race track because these tracks are no fun when they get paved for the first couple years especially with the hard tires that we're on. They just don't stick to the race track. Yeah, it's great that Homestead has that but you're starting to see it even at the shorter tracks, the flatter tracks. Guys are starting to move around and find grip so it's tough to say that they really need to pull up all the asphalt at these race tracks and start over again."
DO YOU THINK GRIP WILL BE A FACTOR THIS WEEKEND? "Every time we come here it seems like it gets a lot worse than what it was in the past and for some reason this track ages a little bit faster than the rest of them. Even during the practice it wasn't long before we were having to lift out of the throttle and to say that a few years ago was unheard of in a Cup car around here. I don't know, when these tracks age it makes for a good racing. I think it's going to make for another great race."
ON HOW HE FELT WITH HIS CAR AFTER THE FIRST PRACTICE: "I was relatively happy with it. We were on a lot different package than what the 20 and the 18 are on so we're trying things out for the Chase. We feel like we're comfortably in a spot right now where we can experiment on things and we're kind of going to take this week and Chicago in particular and just throw something out there and see what happens."
ON HOW HIS VICTORY GIVES THEM MOMENTUM AND HOW IMPORTANT THAT IS AT THIS POINT OF THE SEASON: "It's real important, obviously we saw what it did to the 1 car. It seemed like those guys have really stepped up and confidence means a lot. In a sport where the competition is so tight if you can have any kind of advantage it's going to be big. Those guys have kind of hit their stride and they're really hitting things right now and I think this is one of those deals where I met with Mike (Ford) over the week and we said that this is going to be a great confidence booster but we could be let down here in the next few weeks because we're going to try things that have never been tried before who knows by any other race team so we're going to take the weeks that we know we can be competitive and go with what we know there and the weeks that we don't know what we have like here and Chicago just throw caution to the wind."
ARE YOU AFRAID OF EXPERIMENTING TOO MUCH BEFORE THE CHASE WHERE IT MAY SET YOU BACK? "I'm kind of a little afraid of that. We talked about that whether we can't get too excited if we run 20th to 30th one week. We can't let it get us down because we know we can run top 10 but that's not going to win us the championship. We need to go out there and find what it's going to take to win races and that's what we're trying to accomplish right now."
HOW DID GOING ALMOST A YEAR WITHOUT A WIN IMPACT YOU? "I got to a point where I was just wondering gosh would I ever win a race again. It was tough. You know you will but it's just frustrating to have to wait on that. It was good to finally get that pressure off your shoulder, you're not just the Pocono guy. That was the biggest thing is I just wanted to win at a different race track."
ON WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO WIN AT DAYTONA: "It'd be huge for us. When I won the Shootout here last year, I couldn't believe that I won in Daytona. That was one of the biggest shocks I've had ever in my career so to win either the 500 or the 400 here is a very, very big deal and we're taking it as serious as we can and doing everything we can to win this race."
ARE YOU EXPECTING ANOTHER FINISH WITH FURIOUS RACING THE LAST 40 LAPS? "I think if it goes green it's going to be relatively calm. I think if we have a caution with 10 to go or 15 to go where guys have put on tires, it's going to be a finish somewhat just like the 500. It seems like these cars are really tightly packed for 15 laps or so then they start spreading out. I think it all depends on whether we get that late race caution or not."
-credit: gm racing