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November 20, 2015

Denny Hamlin

THE MODERATOR: Our Coors Light Pole Award winner for Sunday's 17th annual Ford EcoBoost 400 is Denny Hamlin.
DENNY HAMLIN: Also known as Mr.Irrelevant.
THE MODERATOR: He drives the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Denny, congratulations on this pole. Just talk about your car and your outlook for Sunday's race.
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, our car is really fast. It's been fast all day. It was fast in race trim. We didn't make any qualifying runs until those three sessions and we kept getting faster every one. I'm pretty optimistic. And sitting back here and watching Jeff talk and everything, it's like, man, you know, I thought about it before, but I didn't think about like how awesome it would be to win his final race. No disrespect to him, but man, that would be awesome to win his final race. I hope he finishes third behind Kyle.
THE MODERATOR: Spoken like a true teammate. Questions for Denny Hamlin?

Q. Based on your practice speeds today, how confident were you that you could sit on the pole?
DENNY HAMLIN: None. I mean, we didn't make any qualifying runs. We definitely focused on racing, knowing that there was a chance for rain tomorrow, and we got bit at Texas not being in race trim, and we had a fuel issue early in the race.
So didn't have much, but I knew that my car‑‑ in practice this is so far the best car I've ever had here by a long way.

Q. Denny, since we're at the end of the season now, what is the plan on the knee for the surgery? Have you been able to keep it to where there's been minimal damage in the last 10 weeks, and what's the rehabilitation and how that's going to affect your off‑season?
DENNY HAMLIN: Right now we're planning on right after when the season is over, right after Thanksgiving, trying to get it done then, and you know, we'll just try to see how I feel after that.
But certainly want to get it over with as soon as possible.
This one has been‑‑ has worked with me a lot better than my first one for sure. I think the last time I did it in January, we waited until March. Well, that two‑month period between I had a lot of moments where it gave out and was doing further damage. This one didn't do that at all, knock on wood, so this one‑‑ I would have never done the other one in the middle of the season if it would have reacted like this one.
I'm hopefully going to come out quicker and stronger on this one since it's behaved well pre‑operation.

Q. So you're talking early December then?

Q. You were here last year racing for the championship, and you said then you were playing with house money because you really hadn't been the fastest all year. You've got a good car now. Is it kind of a mixed emotions deal for you now?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, it's mixed for me because look what took us out: Two mechanical failures. Well, one mechanical failure took us out at Talladega amongst other things, but between that and then even if we would have moved on, we had‑‑ my car wouldn't run at Texas after 30 laps. Something happened with the fuel system.
Those two things have mired us back in 10th in points, when actually you look at our finishes, we've been really, really good in the Chase when we've run. It's kind of bittersweet knowing that the Chase always seems to set up for me nicely, especially the tracks that are at the tail end of it, Martinsville, Texas and this one here. So you know, I'd still like to win, no doubt about it, but trust me, it's a little bit more relaxing and fun this time around. But I would definitely trade my position with any one of those four guys.

Q. Flash back to your 2013 win here; it was a big comeback win. Does that stand out to you as your favorite moment at this track?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, definitely, because that one kind of kept our win streak alive. I think at the time it was eight straight seasons with a win. It came down to this final race that I needed to get a win to keep that alive. Yeah, that was probably my best win here at this track. We've never qualified well. I think my average start is way, way, way in the back. I haven't figured out how to run fast here in qualifying, but this is a good sign for sure. So hopefully we'd like to lead every single one of the laps when it comes here on Sunday. If my car stays the way it was today, I've got a pretty good chance of that.

Q. You talked about the issues that you had that kept you out of this year's Chase. You talked about how the Chase sets up for you, how you feel good about it. How much disappointment is there that you have run as well as you have in the Chase a number of years and yet you're still trying to win one?
DENNY HAMLIN: Numb to it. I mean, between roof hatches and fuel systems and master switches and all the stuff that has happened to me in Chases, I am just numb to feeling bad about mechanical issues. We hadn't had any issues like that with JGR in the last year and a half, and it's just happened at a really, really bad time for us at Talladega.
We've really come a long way as an organization as far as eliminating those things, but they happen, and it just got us at a wrong moment in the Chase, and so I definitely‑‑ I was really, really mad for a week or so, and then you just kind of‑‑ you get over it. There's just nothing that I could do to change my outcome this year.
THE MODERATOR: Denny, thank you so much, and good luck this weekend.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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