DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

What is your outlook after two races in the Chase? “We definitely are in a position now to where we can kind of relax and have some fun and try to win some races from here on out. That’s the important, number one priority for us right now is to kind of get back on track before the year is over.”

What kind of conversations have you had with your team leading into this race? “For sure, our communication is a lot more elaborate than what it was a few months ago. I definitely feel like we’re at a good place as far as that’s concerned. We just are still trying to work to get this program kind of back on track. Nothing is going to happen overnight by any means, we just have to take some time to get it right and it’s going to take some on-track testing during weekends over these next seven weeks to get it right.”

How do you feel about heading back to Kansas? “I’m looking forward to it. We ran really strong in the Kansas race in the spring and really 1.5-mile tracks in general have been good to us here lately as far as our performance. We look forward to going back to them. It’s the normal type races of what we have during the season and stuff that we’ve worked on will hopefully apply to those race tracks. Tracks like here and New Hampshire these past two weeks have kind of been one off race tracks where you really can’t get a good feel for where your program is at.”

Will the Phoenix test be more for November or 2012? “I would say probably 2012 more than anything for us. We’ve got some different packages and stuff that we’re going to work on. Ultimately we’re going to go each week and try to win that given week. We’re going to be trying wholesale stuff more so than just fine tuning to that race track in specific.”

Has Tony Stewart’s surge been surprising? “It’s hard to call a guy that’s won a couple of championships a surprise, but yeah. It looked like they were struggling going into the Chase. There was a few races where they struggled, but they’ve got some great resources. They pull a lot from Hendrick (Motorsports) and obviously that team is very strong and Tony (Stewart) is a good driver. He can figure it out and obviously we see that coming to at this point. It’s so early to tell. Obviously, they got a great jump start on the Chase and they got themselves in good position, but it’s still a long way to go and I’m sure he’ll tell you that.”

What are your thoughts on the Kansas repave next spring? “I like the track the way it is. I like old surfaces, personally. I think that lends itself to two and three-wide racing better than what new-paved race tracks do. But if the track is torn up to where they can’t have a race and be safe there than they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do. Love going to that area. You look around the race track and they’re building a lot of stuff around there. It’s a great venue and obviously we get a lot of fan support when we go out there. It’s a place where -- it’s probably NASCAR’s future is kind of heading out there.”

Do you have the speed you need to dominate and win races right now? “Not right now, I don’t think so as far as like going out and dominating any given week. I would say it’s not likely, but it can happen if we hit a setup. No, we’re not where we need to be by any means at this point, but I see things in the future getting better. And, when I say future, I say in the next three to four weeks I see us being top-five contenders and once you get there then that leads to race wins. For us, that’s our focus right now is to get from where I feel like we’re at between 10th to 15th to a top-five every week car like we were last year.”

Could you win in a last-lap drag race? “No, we don’t have the all out speed that we need right now. If it came out to a shoot out, we would need some help.”