home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


May 16, 2016

Denny Hamlin

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference. We are joined by Denny Hamlin, driver of the No.11 FexEx Express Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Hamlin is the defending champion of the NASCAR Sprint All‑Star Race, which takes place this Saturday, May 21st, at 7 p.m. eastern on FOX Sports 1.
The race kicks off 10 Days of Thunder at Charlotte Motor Speedway which also includes one of NASCAR's signature events, the Coca‑Cola 600, Sunday, May 29th, 6 p.m. eastern on FOX.
Denny, heading into the All‑Star break this weekend, it's been a pretty interesting first half, beginning with your Daytona 500 victory in the closest finish of the race's history. Talk about the exciting first half and what we have to look forward to for the remainder of the season.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, there's definitely a lot of variables coming up this weekend at Charlotte, between the rules package and obviously the format. It's going to be very interesting to see how it all plays out. As a driver, there's going to be a lot of strategy played with crew chiefs and drivers. To see how it all works out, we'll have to see on track Saturday.
I personally look forward to it. It should be pretty exciting.
THE MODERATOR: Today FedEx is launching a special No.11 FedEx Cares vote where fans can vote for their favorite paint scheme which you will run in Sonoma in June. Talk a little bit more about that program.
DENNY HAMLIN: We're allowing the fans to vote on FedEx's Facebook page or their Twitter handle, and vote either by hashtag on Twitter or a comment on Facebook. With each vote, FedEx is going to donate $1 to one of the charities on the side of the cars ‑ there's five different ones ‑ up to $55,000. That's a big number.
They're also pledging over the next four years $200 million to 200 communities. That's a big number for a great company that obviously gives a lot back to their communities here in the U.S.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now go to the media for questions for Denny Hamlin.

Q. Denny, curious what you thought about the rules announced today, the fact that they're going to eliminate some of these fans that teams have been using that create downforce, and also what they're testing at the All‑Star Race with the rear tow?
DENNY HAMLIN: I think from the fan standpoint, they won't see physically anything different with the cars. I think the teams are probably trying the most economical way to slow these cars down in the center of the corner.
I think it's just kind of an effort to keep going down the path that we started this year of taking downforce away. Most of these changes are going to take side force away, which to a fan may not mean much, but it's all really an effort to take the center of the corner speed down.
Ultimately we can take more chances when the speeds are down and the person in front of us is lifting off the throttle. It allows us to carry it in there, similar to like I did in Kansas. It gave me the opportunity to make a move. It may work, it may not. It didn't in my case, but at least gave me the chance to.
I think it's kind of an effort to make the racing better. I think anytime you slow the speeds down, racing will always be better. I look forward to it.

Q. What's it going to take for you to have a race where there's no pit road penalties?
DENNY HAMLIN: We're up to nine now, which is a pretty big number through all the races. Even this weekend, there was twice we pitted under green, and both times we got caught by a caution. That was a total of three laps down that we went, two laps once, then one lap the next.
It's just too hard to overcome it. I mean, our results don't look nearly as good as our teammates by any means. A lot of it is hurting ourselves by having to go to the back of the pack so many times during the race.
We need to have a smooth race. We're going to get it together eventually. It's taking a little bit of time. I'm very confident by the time we get to the next month or two, we're going to have some of these bugs worked out and we'll be contending for wins like our teammates are.

Q. Denny, Joe Gibbs Racing obviously has been way ahead of everybody this year, most of last year. How long do you figure you can maintain that performance advantage?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I mean, there's rule changes coming on the horizon. We don't know what will happen. This weekend could be a totally different look, I guess you could say. We don't know what other teams are doing in the backs of their cars to make their cars handle well.
You just never know. This sport is changing, and evolution is happening every single week. These teams are not going to sit on their hands. They're all striving to go out there and lead laps and win races, just like we are.
We've seen peaks and valleys. This is about one year now that our cars have been really strong. I think in some instances we've been very fortunate to get some of the wins we've had.
I tell you, it has a lot to do with the communication that's going on between the drivers and the crew chiefs at this point. It's as good as I've ever seen it. I think that everyone's happy with where they're at. We're just working really well together. It's showing results on the racetrack.

Q. Back in the old days, it seemed like a rules change came about because one manufacturer or one team got an advantage on the field. Do you feel this is coming up in large part due to Gibbs' success this year?
DENNY HAMLIN: No, I think the rule changes have to come with the drivers council having some influence with NASCAR. We're trying to achieve really the same goals.
Right now between NASCAR, the RTA and the driver council we're all trying to reduce corner speeds. Obviously with the downforce that was taken away in the off‑season, what you don't see is what's happening behind the scenes, and that is that teams are getting smarter.
If we had qualifying this weekend at Dover, there's a chance we would set another track record. While track records are fun and cool for the stat sheet, they're terrible for racing.
We've got to slow these cars down. All groups recognize that. We're trying to do it in the most cost‑effective way for the race teams. This is something that's been going on for quite a while, of just continued effort to give the fans the best racing on track as possible.
Dover, as tough of a racetrack as it is to pass, we saw a great finish, the last 25 laps this past weekend. I think fans are going to get more and more of the same going forward as long as we continue to reduce the downforce.
We've come up with a great package, but we just can't settle with that. Let's just keep trying to get more. That's what we're doing this weekend.

Q. Denny, from a Toyota angle, Toyota right now holds all the major race titles over the last year. The one‑year anniversary of that mark this weekend. Also the championship. In general, the JGR cars seem every weekend to win. Over this past year of this non‑stop ride, do you ever shake your head? If you're not winning one of your teammates is winning. What has this all been like?
DENNY HAMLIN: I mean, it's frustrating, but it's also, like, I'd rather have one win during the regular season and have a championship than have eight during the regular season like 2010 and win second in the championship.
I know this is a process. I can assure you that we're going to get things sorted out within our own personal team here shortly.
I mean, it is frustrating, for sure. I don't know that our speed has been that far off of our teammates. We've got speed, we keep having to go to the back of the pack every other caution. That kills any momentum that we had in the race. You're trying to adjust the car for being back there. Then you get to the front, I make a bold move at Kansas, make a mistake.
We're all trying to win races, but we're also trying to be better for the Chase races. I know speaking personally with our team, from Dover to Texas and Kansas, those are all Chase tracks. We have been trying some different things within our team and car to get better at those racetracks.
What's going on with us right now is very similar to when Aaron Rodgers told the Packer Nation a few years ago to relax. We'll be fine when we start the Chase in September.

Q. The All‑Star Race criteria that a driver has to meet to get into the race, are you comfortable with that? NASCAR reduced the field this year. Are you comfortable with that number, 20, or do you want to make it more exclusive?
DENNY HAMLIN: I'm always of the opinion of more exclusive is better. I mean, I think that could be used for the Unlimited at the beginning of the year, and at the All‑Star as well.
I mean, half the field is a big number. It's a very big number. I think it used to be you had to win the Showdown, then it was two, I think now it might be even four.
It's okay, I guess. You know, yes, I'm always going to say that it should be more exclusive and harder to get in, for sure.

Q. Denny, talking about the success of JGR. When you first got into the Cup Series, obviously Hendrick Motorsports was the dominant team based on wins and championships. JGR has now moved out in front. Can you give a sense of what it's taken for you and the organization to reach this level, what it means for someone such as yourself who has been there for so long at JGR and for a number of years had to look up as opposed to look down, but have a different viewpoint of an organization like Hendrick, how you guys have built to match them and even surpass them in areas?
DENNY HAMLIN: I know it wasn't just overnight by any means. We constantly are working to get better even right now. It's not like we just are sitting on what we got and expect to go out there and win. I mean, we're constantly trying to make everything better within our race team, whether it be our pit stops, no mistakes on pit road, making our cars faster. We're always striving to be better.
A lot of it, too, is that we have more information now than we've ever had. With the addition of Martin as kind of a stepbrother teammate, that's more information for the drivers, more information for the crew chiefs to share.
I know the 20 car had a lot of influence from the 78 setup from the past this weekend and was very successful with it.
I think it's just everyone's working so good together. We went from having three cars to four to now five. It's just making us all better on Sunday and race day. When you have teammates as good as I know I have, it helps me learn quite a bit more. There's a lot to soak in.
Really it's been a pretty seamless adjustment adding these cars, where usually you see teams add cars and struggle because they stretch their personnel thin. I think we did a good job of adding at the right time and making sure that all the pieces were in place for every team to be successful.
What you're seeing is with that many cars with that much speed on a weekly basis, you can have one or two cars have a bad race because your other two or three are going to be there to pick up the pieces and race for a win.
It's hard to get all the cars running well at the same time. But obviously JGR has done a great job of that.

Q. With these rule changes for this weekend, with the aero changes, it's almost kind of comical after the end of some of these races where you see cars shaking, some guys hitting walls, getting their cars readjusted. Is this something that is going to end that or is that something that NASCAR is going to have to do once the checkered flag falls?
DENNY HAMLIN: I think what happens is that they give us tolerances. What happens is teams push to those tolerances or even more, then they figure out a way to get their car back within tolerance before it goes through inspection again.
It is kind of comical at times to see all the games that get played. But, I mean, ultimately every team is doing something to try to get an edge.
I'm all in favor of, hey, let's weld the backs of these cars dead solid so there is no movement and let us go race and not have to play any of those games.
I'm all for the changes and anything that can reduce corner speed that is going to make for better racing for the fans. I like the changes personally, and I think it will be better.
THE MODERATOR: Denny, thank you for joining us today. Best of luck this weekend in the NASCAR Sprint All‑Star Race.
DENNY HAMLIN: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297