Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Ground Monte Carlo SS, currently sits eighth in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series points. Hamlin spent time with members of the media to discuss racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Car of Tomorrow and 2007 season to date. 0N IF...
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Ground Monte Carlo SS, currently sits eighth in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series points. Hamlin spent time with members of the media to discuss racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Car of Tomorrow and 2007 season to date.
0N IF PRACTICE TIME IS FAIR TO ALL TEAMS: "I didn't get the advantage of having rookie practice because they eliminated those just before I came in to Cup as a rookie. I have never really had an issue with not getting enough practice because of inspection. It is hard for me to really put myself in their shoes."
ON RACING AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY: "I love the track. It is sort of my favorite race track that we go to. I have had a lot of up and down here, I have run three races, and was really competitive in one and mediocre in two. I felt this was one of the race tracks I needed to only run the Cup car so I could totally, 100% focus on it to try to get the most out of it. This is a big race for us to try and get back in the swing of it.
"Last week was the classic No. 11 car, same thing we did all last year running 10th to 15th. We would run mid-pack for most of the day and then at the end of the race, we show up. It is just our style, it is not my style to go out there and go all out for 500 miles. I chose to hold things back, then the last 100 miles we would get after it and get a little bit more. Some race tracks you can do that and some of them you can't. Last week I knew there was going to be a lot of attrition so I held back and saved the best for last.
"I have always liked this place. Any track where you can manipulate your race car by the line you choose is good. It gives us options that we wouldn't normally have. Whether you run good or bad here, most of the consensus in the garage is they like this race track."
ON BEING BACK IN TOP-10 IN POINTS: "It is definitely good to be back because I didn't get there until mid-summer last year. I am glad we are getting back in the swing of things a little bit early. I am confident coming back to these race tracks a second time."
ON COMPETITORS WHO TRY TO GO FROM 25TH TO FIRST IN FIRST FIVE LAPS: "Very very aggravating. Not because I am aggravated at them, I am aggravated because they must of saw something I didn't and I am just sitting there. It is something that I have learned through Tony that you have to be there at the end. I learned in the Busch series when we weren't that competitive, if you finish every week, the points will be there. I took that same approach last year, we only had the one DNF at Martinsville. I just be patient, I have always been patient. I've learned what it is like to fix race cars, how much it costs to fix race cars. I chose not to put myself in that position."
ON HAVING ONE EYE ON ATLANTA AND THE OTHER EYE ON BRISTOL: "We are definitely thinking about it. It is coming up, the COT is now, the car of next week. I am really really confident in our team. I know we have had lightening fast car in testing. I am almost excited to get this one over with so we can get to Bristol next week.
"I am excited for our whole organization because all the Joe Gibbs Racing teams seem to be good there and toward the top of the charts at Bristol testing. I am confident in the team. Everyone at JGR did a lot of homework, a lot of hard work, developing that car. I am just one of the lucky guys that gets to drive it."
ON RACES HE REALLY WANTS TO WIN: "Well, obviously Richmond. That is by far number one on my list because that is where I am from. Another one is the Brickyard cause that is the one that kind of got away from us last year. We ran third on seven cylinders on a track that has the longest straightaways and race just about. I feel really confident going back there. It is a lot like Pocono. Of course going back to those race tracks for the second time, our performance alone should be better."
ON MARK MARTIN STEPPING OUT OF THE CAR AND TAKING TIME OFF: "I would say whatever makes you happy. It is so early in the season. If we were 15-20 races in to the season and leading the points, it would kind of hard to walk away. But we have only run three races, so a lot can happen. If he committed to a full-season and had a problem here or somewhere else in a few weeks, he might say I wish I had taken the year off like I had planned on doing. A lot of things can happen. You have got to set in your mind what you are going to do before you do it and he is definitely at his happiest right now."
"I kinda can think about what he is thinking about. This is the first Busch race I haven't run in three years. It's weird to see everyone out there and knowing that my car is out there but I'm not out there. It's a little bit different for him than it is me but we're kind of in the same situation. It's hard especially. We're 60 points out of the lead and not to be running the race is kind of hard to swallow."
WHAT IS DIFFERENCE ABOUT YOU THIS TIME HERE VERSUS THE LAST TIME HERE? "It's hard to say what is really different. It's just the experience level. I have a lot more knowledge of race cars and what I need to feel versus last year. I think I kind of went through a transition last year where I was just running my cars too loose and now we're starting to work back to where we were most successful. Now I'm realizing that as a driver when I get in for practice what I need to feel to be good on Sunday. Last year I just kind of said I've never been here before so I don't know what the transition between the two are going to be. I think our performance will pick up solely just based on that."
ON HAVING CONFIDENCE: "Just to have confidence that we belong here in the garage and that we were Chase contending guys. We may not have been championship material but we were deserving to be in the Chase. Each one of those wins bolted us in top 10 in points again. It gave us that confidence and ever since then we kind of hit a stride there in the summer where we were running really, really well and finished the year on a high note. I had all confidence this year that we'd be better than we were last year."
WHEN YOU CAME INTO THIS SERIES DID YOU EVER WONDER IF YOU WERE GOOD ENOUGH? "You always question your abilities. As race car drivers there's probably 40 guys that worry about their jobs that at some point of their career. It's just part of it. There's no job security in our series. You always want to perform good so when you don't perform good you're wondering if the guy right behind me is better. Do I still have it? Did I ever have it? There's moments like that but you've got realize that we all know that we got here for a reason and we're around the best drivers in the world so it's not a fluke that we got here. It's all about confidence. Confidence really can go a long way in the sport."
CAN YOU BE TOO CONFIDENT? "You can be too confident for sure. This sport is very humbling. It can set you back to reality. As soon as you think you're the best, there's somebody there to dethrone you. I don't know, it's just so competitive and it shows year in and year out how more competitive it is. Now it's just tough for some of these guys to make races. It's going to just keep getting harder."
-credit: gm racing