Denny Hamlin is looking for redemption after having one slip away back in 2010.
Miami, Fla. – Going into the championship weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Denny Hamlin, one of the four finalists in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and a previous winner on the 1.5-mile oval, says he’s relaxed and at ease going into final and most important race of the Sprint Cup season.
Relaxed and ready to win
With the gold, prestige and magnitude of the championship at stake, Hamlin appeared calm and collected during the Championship 4 press conference on Thursday evening at the Trump National Doral some 25 miles distant from Sunday’s battleground. “I am playing this game in a relaxed mode. I am having fun with the moment, as you never know when it will come around again,” Hamlin said.
'I won't sell my soul for a championship'
“I want to live it up and have some fun. It is exciting but I am not going to let it overwhelm me and define me in my career. I am not going to sell my soul to win a championship, but I am going to give it 1,000 per cent out on that race track and drive as hard as I have ever driven. We’re going to see where the chips will fall, but there are only certain things that I can control.”
There’s going to some human error when it comes to this championship and human error could decide who is going to be the champion.
He doesn’t believe that one has to win the race to cop the championship. “It is tough to say, but usually the championship contenders are up front,” he noted. “I think it is a 50-50 shot that you can win the race and the championship. It depends on the circumstances, but I can assure you that no one will have as much drive that we will have.”
The Virginia native went on to say that he has grown a lot over the years and that level of maturity was clearly evident as he talked about his family, his team, his relationship with the team’s management and sponsors. As always, Hamlin will be driving the FedEx Express Toyota, and he let it be known that he would dearly like to win the championship for Toyota.
Losing one before you win one
Hamlin has spent his career with Joe Gibbs Racing and he feels close to everyone on the team, especially those that have been with him since the early days. They came close to winning the crown in 2010 and some feel one has to lose a championship before you can win one.
Based on the outcome four years ago, Hamlin has that experience on his side, but doesn’t feel like he is owed one. He also had to soldier through a down year in 2013, and he said he has learned from all these experiences and has a clear understanding of adversity and what it takes to succeed.
“We overcame adversity last week, but we got here because we didn’t make the mistakes that the other guys did,” Hamlin stated. “Now, we have an opportunity to go out there and put it all on the line. There’s going to some human error when it comes to this championship and human error could decide who is going to be the champion.”
Hamlin turns 34 on November 18. “I am going to treat this weekend like it is my birthday weekend and go have fun,” he said, letting it be known he will be spending Saturday night with friends and family. “I feel most at ease when I am around friends and family. We talk about everything but racing, which puts my mind at ease.”
But come Sunday afternoon Hamlin will be in another zone and be totally focused on the championship. “This (the championship) is what I have dreamed about,” he said with an air of confidence in his voice.