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June 26, 2016

Denny Hamlin

Sonoma, California

THE MODERATOR: We're going to roll right into our post‑race for today's Toyota/SaveMart 350 here at Sonoma Raceway, and our race runner‑up and certainly you put on a heck of a show for us here today was Denny Hamlin, driver of the No.11 FedEx Cares Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. I know you're very disappointed, but just talk about this race today and maybe those last few laps if you would, please.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah. We had a really good car. Obviously the best road course car I've had. We led some laps, was very competitive. I had a bad restart and the 78 got by us. We got a bad one but Tony got a real good one and the inside line got a good start, and that allowed Martin to get by me and I burned up way too much of my tires getting back around him, and obviously that last run my car was the worst it was all day, just didn't have any forward drive, probably because I was burning them up trying to get to Tony and around Martin.
But just like you heard Tony say, I thought with two or three to go he pretty much had it, but he made a couple mistakes and allowed us to get pretty close, and then we just both wheel hopped into 7, and I just let off my wheel hop a little bit so I could get to his rear bumper and get him out of the groove just a touch. It was perfectly executed, but I was going through the esses knowing that I needed to get the biggest gap that I could going into 7, and when he was two back or so going into 7, I just‑‑ I didn't run a low enough line in Turn 11 from wheel hopping in Turn 7. I got the rears hot, wheel hopped it a little bit again, got out of line, and obviously gave him the inside line.
Once I knew he had position and we had a wall on the other side of us, that I knew, pretty good chance, that we were going to go in the wall. I don't think he was going to leave it to chance, a drag race coming off Turn 11. We definitely had a car that should have won, but we were on the bad end of the deal.

Q. Did you run Turn 11 kind of knowing that if he could get to your bumper that he was going to turn you, and so you had to make sure there was separation? And second, can you tell us kind of what you told him when you leaned your head in the car?
DENNY HAMLIN: You know, yeah, I knew I needed a big gap. I didn't know if he would physically spin us out. I thought there was a very good chance of it because that's his opportunity to get in the Chase ultimately. I mean, how many more chances is he going to have? I think this is by far the best he's run all year, and he's in his final season, so his give a (expletive) factor is probably really low to be honest with you (laughter.)
I think that we were in a tough spot going into the final corner no matter what, but I still didn't execute as good as what I should have.

Q. What did you say to Tony?
DENNY HAMLIN: Just private stuff. I've known Tony for a long time, so a little heart to heart.

Q. You talked about he left the door open for you. What exactly did he do to leave the door open for you?
DENNY HAMLIN: He wheel hopped two laps in a row into 7 and missed the corner quite a bit and that allowed us to get in shouting distance. My biggest problem all day is I wasn't very good on the second half of the track. I thought my car was very good up until Turn 7, and then down the hill in 11 we just weren't very fast for whatever reason. It's a problem I've had here for 11 years. I just knew‑‑ I was trying to gain all the time I could down that hill knowing I needed a big gap, and I just heated up the tires too much going into the final corner. I've blown through them for the last two laps, spinning them. I wheel hopped twice before the final corner, and the car wouldn't take it. It wouldn't take the braking zone that I had before.
It's part of racing. It's fun road course racing, and even though we were on the short end of it, it was fun to race.

Q. On Thursday you said when you were a rookie you had the chance to spin Tony and go for the win for your road course. Here you got past him and then on the last lap‑‑ any thoughts reminiscent on all of that now?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, yeah. Thank you for the reminder. We were talking about it today in the hauler. My rookie season Jeff Gordon gave me the rookie chop with a few laps to go at Watkins Glen when I was running second. I backed off, Tony turned me and knocked me up the racetrack, and I remember the next corner, Jeff wheel hops, spins out, Tony goes on and wins the race, and I was thinking that me and Tony‑‑ I owed him one on a road course, but I'm sure he wasn't thinking of that in his final season at a road course trying to get into the Chase. Tony has been ultra fair to me quite a bit. He's treated me really well my entire career. It's not like I gave him one by any means. He gave us an opportunity to move him, we did, and then we got it back. It's just part of the deal.
THE MODERATOR: Denny Hamlin, great performance here today, and continued best of luck the rest of the season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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