Darlington: Hamlin - Friday media visit

Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Impala SS, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and talked about what it would be like to have Dale Earnhardt Jr. as a teammate, on how the Impala SS has exceeded his expectations here so far, on...

Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Impala SS, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and talked about what it would be like to have Dale Earnhardt Jr. as a teammate, on how the Impala SS has exceeded his expectations here so far, on why drivers like the All Star race and more.

ON HIS REACTION TO DALE EARNHARDT, JR.'S ANNOUNCEMENT: "He's doing what he wants to do. I know through past experience talking with him he's had ideas of leaving for a while. He's just finally going through with it."

ON POSSIBLY HAVING HIM AS A TEAMMATE: "He'd be a big asset to Gibbs as a whole. He'd definitely bring a lot of sponsors, a lot of money and that in turn would help all of our race teams. I think the communication between myself and him is a good and I know him and Tony are fairly tight. Yeah, it'd be a great fit. We'd love to have him. There's a lot of things that got to be worked out."

ON IF IT'S GOOD OR BAD FOR NASCAR TO HAVE THE MOST MARKETABLE DRIVER A FREE AGENT? "Sure, it's a good. It probably takes all the media away from debris cautions, Car of Tomorrow and this, that and the other. It'll probably be forgotten in about a month or so after this is all done. I think for NASCAR's sake it's a good thing."

ON IF HE'S WATCHING HOW THIS PLAYS OUT AND HOW THIS COULD AFFECT HIMSELF IN HIS NEXT NEGOTIATION: "It's a lot different with him than it is with us. He's bringing so many different souvenir sales and things like that. Teams can pay more for him because he brings more money to the team than someone like myself for sure. You can't always use that as an example. I think eventually it's probably going to drive the cost of the drivers up."

HAS THE IMPALA SS BEEN AS HARD AS YOU EXPECTED COMING HERE? "It really drives a lot better than what I expected. I talked to Jeff Burton a little bit and he thought it drove a lot better than what he expected. I talked to (Jeff) Gordon to last week and he tire tested here and he said it is going to be extremely tough just not to hit the wall so that kind of had me a little bit skeptical there but after practice I felt it was pretty good. I got a lot better things to say about it then what I would have normally."

WHAT MAKES THE CAR BETTER THAN WHAT YOU EXPECTED? "I think this track just demands so much more mechanical grip than aero that people aren't complaining as much about the aero issues that we usually have with these cars. I think Darlington should make for a good race simply because the tires wear out, we're going to fall off a lot and you'll probably see more side-by-side racing in this race than you had in any other Car of Tomorrow races."

ON IF THE IMPALA HAS HELPED THE AERO PUSH OR IF IT'S TOO SOON TO TELL: "I don't know that it's going to make the aero push deal better but here you're not going feel it as much. I got behind different cars in practice and really didn't notice it as bad as even the Busch car at some point. I think slowly but surely guys are starting to figure this car out and when they go it's going to make for better racing."

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE ALL STAR RACE THAT MAKES IT SUCH A BIG DEAL? "Obviously the million bucks means a lot for sure but everyone gets to see their driver go 100 percent every single lap because we really don't have anything to lose other than maybe some guys were thinking about running that back car for the 600. But most of the time there's a big wreck and it takes them all out anyway. That's what the excitement is for the fans, why it draws so many fans is it's all out and there's no letting a guy pass or anything like that. Everyone has to earn it."

DO YOU LIKE THE FORMAT OF THAT RACE? "No, I like it. I think it's good. The shorter the better. The shorter (it is), it's going to make obviously for tighter finishes and is going to make for more intense racing."

ON HIS PLANS FOR MOTHER'S DAYS: "Mother's Day plans are probably going to be out on the lake for sure but I'll definitely have my mother with me. They moved down this past week so it's going to be exciting to have them with me on Mother's Day and hopefully she'll be here on Saturday night to watch us win."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Denny Hamlin