DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Autism Speaks Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What is your outlook for this weekend's race at Dover? "It's definitely a big weekend for obviously FedEx and the Autism Speaks. I got to do a golf tournament here yesterday and had a lot of fun doing that once again. FedEx and autism have had a great partnership and we are trying to raise awareness for autism and I think this is a great weekend to do that. They willing give up their race car for this race the past couple years and obviously the namesake of the actual race. We're trying to do a lot for them and I couldn't be prouder to be driving the FedEx Autism Speaks car this weekend."
How is your team doing at this point in the season? "We are getting there, I'd say we are 75 percent of where we were as far as our strength to the field in 2010 to right now. I think we've identified the areas in which we need to improve that 25 percent. Everyone is going to work, everything is going well right now. There's really nothing in our outlook that looks grim in the sense of knowing that we're going to have good cars coming up here. Each and every week we're going to have a better car going to the race track. Everything looks good and I feel like there's no reason why we can't have four or five wins before we even get to the Chase."
Do you have any personal experience with anyone with autism? "Some of the partnership we have is because it touches someone that you know. The guy that pretty much signs my pay check, Mike Glenn at FedEx, his son has autism, so it means a lot to them and for them to take an opportunity to paint the car, to raise awareness. I was reading a bunch of stats from yesterday, one in 88, the number just continues to go down of people that are diagnosed with it. It's a major concern and there's really no cure, so you have to identify it and it takes a lot from these families that have children with autism, it takes a lot out of them. This is all about raising awareness and we're here for a greater cause this weekend."
Do you think some drivers held back during practice to be able to go out earlier for qualifying? "The weather is really the only reason that you wouldn't try to change your position. If it gets rained out, you don't want to get caught by the rain and obviously there's a greater chance tomorrow than it is today. That's why we tried to go as fast as we could today to ensure if for some reason we don't qualify, we at least have a good position."
What is your mindset going to Pocono next week after the repave? "I'm going to approach Pocono like its an entirely different race track that I've never been on because basically it will be. We've gone through a lot of rule changes and surface changes at that track every time that we've gone back and so it's going to be another element that's changed. Kind of talking to the guys that have ran there, it's going to be interesting to see what tire that they brought back. Any advantage I thought I might have had at Pocono has obviously disappeared at this point. I go there with a lot of optimism that it's just a brand new track for everyone and it's going to be the first one to figure it out wins."
What makes Dover difficult to drive and figure out? "So many different things. Even in practice today, I know that I am mediocre here at best. I just try to identify why I am so inconsistent at this race track, why I don't have a good feel. Typically when we run good at a race track, we typically run there good forever. I am able to duplicate that feel that I'm looking for. This track is very sensitive to feel in the sense that it's a fast race track that you miss your mark on entry by a little bit and it changes your feel of the car entirely. For me, I try to work on things that help with driver feel in the first practice and then we'll work on tune and setup for the second. When people want suggestions or rookies ask about how to get around a race track, this is not one they look towards me."
What are your thoughts on the Redskins drafting quarterback Robert Griffin III? "I'm pretty excited about it. I think any time you can have someone that has his talent, just athletic talent, it's going to help your team. I think that's an area that the Redskins have been weak for the last five to six years, realistically. It's good to see they are taking steps in the right direction. I know their owner is not shy about doing whatever it takes to try to win a championship financially. He'll do whatever it takes, it just looks like they have a good team assembled this year."