Hamlin - Richmond II Friday media visit

Toyota Motorsport press release

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin

Photo by: Adriano Manocchia

What is your strategy for the race this weekend? “It’s basic principles and we’ve got to just run well. That’s all there is really to it is we’ve just got to run the way we’re capable of running and we should be fine.”

How much pressure are you feeling going into the race this weekend? “I’m fine. Really, we control our own destiny just like they control their own destiny. We don’t have to have help from a few other guys. I think it’s probably easier on us than it is for the guys that have certain scenarios that have to happen for them to make it. Really, I’m racing this race as if it’s just a normal season race like I have the last few years -- no different.”

What were you doing on 9/11 and what are your thoughts on the 10-year anniversary? “Well, everyone remembers, but I was underneath my race car in Townsend near Richmond, Virginia, putting exhausts on trying to hurry up and get it ready to race the weekend. That was what I was doing and immediately everything just stopped. Everyone just came in and started watching TV and everything. I went and got to see the construction of Ground Zero and the memorial that they’re building and it’s just an amazing place that I encourage everyone to go and see. It’s very informative and I think it’s a great tribute to our country.”

Is there any reason to believe you or Kyle Busch won’t win again this weekend? “He (Kyle Busch) looks really strong. I don’t think that we look that strong, but it’s so hard to tell. It’s just like any other race track. The difference in day and night is big at this race track so it’s tough to say. I’ve got to look back at practices from races we’ve won and the last five races we’re always kind of in the middle to the back. Sometimes we have a good practice, but we’re fighting a little speed, which is typical. But it looks like to me the 18 (Kyle Busch) has one of the better cars. The 33 (Clint Bowyer) is pretty good.”

Do you have to forget where you were in practice to be successful tomorrow night? “Not really. If anything, I’m pretty at ease with it. At any other race track and we’re that far off I’d be panicking, but I know that all of our setups are basically really close to each other the last two, three, four years. So, we’ll get it back in that box. And, we did try some stuff. We tried a lot of things that we normally don’t run here just trying to get better and it wasn’t as good. That’s why you don’t see the speed all out that it had. In the final practice, we didn’t make a qualifying run and a lot of guys did.”

Do you feel like the pressure is off tomorrow night because you are so comfortable at Richmond? “Exactly. Here (Richmond), Martinsville and Pocono, I mean, any one of those in a situation where I’ve got to perform well at to make the Chase I’m pretty comfortable. We just need to go out there and make sure we don’t take too many risks. Don’t get off on some kind of fuel strategy, protect ourselves in the case that maybe those guys coming down and getting fuel and trying to run to the end -- we’ve got to protect all of that to make sure we play offensively, but defensively also.”

Do you have a set strategy for the race? “Don’t have a set strategy, but we know how the cautions have been not falling like they used to. These races, a lot of them are fuel mileage nowadays. You’ve got to protect yourself in case it comes down to that.”

How would a win at this track boost your confidence? “It would be big for us. Obviously, a win in the last race in the regular season goes a long way and it has for us the last couple of years. We’re looking at this race trying to win it, knowing that if we do we’re going to feel -- be sticking our chest out thinking that we’ve really got a shot to win the championship, whether we do or not. It will be big for confidence, for sure.”

Do you put much emphasis on qualifying at this track? “You do. Here a little bit more lately, for sure, because of track position. We talk about it every week. It’s just so big in our sport now. Passing is not as easy as it used to be, so yeah, we will work from here on out we work more on qualifying than what we used to years ago to try to not put ourselves back there where we could get in trouble. Here we’ve spent about the same amount of time on it. If I had to guess and throw a number, we’ll probably be about 15th.”

With the NFL season starting, do you have any Super Bowl predications? “I am a big Redskins fan, but I think Atlanta is going to be kind of a sleeper team, not that they’re really sleepers. They were good last year, but, gosh, it’s hard to say you would bet anything against Green Bay the way they look right now.”

Will you approach the Chase different in 2011? “We’re going to be going in there with a total different mindset than we had last year. We were expected to win it all last year. Everyone expected us to. We expected to. With that hot summer that we had where we won all those races, we had the mindset of going out there and winning a championship. This year, if we get in, it’s going to be like we’re starting at the bottom, so we’ve got nowhere to go but forward. Where last year we started at the top and it’s hard to maintain that, trust me. It’s going to be a little different mindset. I’m going to look at it, personally, as everything from here on out if we do make it is a bonus, because luckily that one win could possibly give us a new lease on the season.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags gibbs, hamlin, richmond, sprint cup, toyota