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October 8, 2017

Chase Elliott

Denny Hamlin

Concord, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We're going to roll into our post‑race media availability this afternoon of the Bank of America 500. We've now been joined by Denny Hamlin, driver of the No.11 FedEx Toyota. Denny, a hard‑fought run out there for your team, and just tell us a little bit about your run today here at Charlotte.
DENNY HAMLIN: You know, it definitely hurt not having that practice on Saturday. We didn't have a very good car for the most part today. We got some good track position on long runs. We got some good track position on pit road. But other than that, you know, I thought we were somewhere around a 6th‑ to 9th‑place car, and obviously the pit crew did a great job at the end, which them picking up all those spots. Between that and first pit stall on pit road, I think that's kind of a normal stop for them.

Q. You sound tired and you look pretty worn, and Kyle needed treatment. Is it hot? Was there an issue out there today?
DENNY HAMLIN: Probably humidity I think is probably the biggest factor. Looking at my suit, you know, you usually can tell hydration level from my suit. Any time it has white streaks all over it, I'm spent pretty good. I feel pretty bad, no doubt about it. But it's getting better by the minute.

Q. My second question is about the 78; you guys are affiliates or whatever you want to call it; why is he so much better than you guys?
DENNY HAMLIN: He's just got more speed, and more speed in reserve I would say. I think they can be a little bit off in balance and still be a little bit faster than what we are. Where I feel like the races we run competitive with him, it's been my‑‑ my balance has been superb, and then I hear in our debrief, he hated his car. I think they've just got a little bit more speed in reserve, honestly. I mean, they build their own bodies and do their own thing out there. They just use our parts to put it all together. They do a phenomenal job. There's something to be said, too, about having a two‑car team. They can focus more on those specific cars, and especially just one car in the playoffs. I'm sure every resource and every overtime hour is worked on the 78 car. It's just sometimes with a four‑car team it gets spread out and it takes longer for updates to happen because you can't go to the racetrack with, okay, this one car has got‑‑ this is better on this car, this one is older on this car. They want to have it the same for everyone, and that takes time. So I think there's something to be said about that.
THE MODERATOR: Chase, another solid performance by your team in this round of playoffs. Just talk a little bit about your run today in the 24.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, it's been a solid start. Obviously we'd like to pick up one spot, but overall just the way we've been running since the playoffs started has been refreshing, and definitely makes it a lot of fun to come to the track and know that our car is going to drive pretty good, our pit stops have been really nice, and now is definitely the time of year to do that. So hopefully we can carry it forward, what, five or six more weeks and see what it's got to offer.

Q. Denny, how prepared was your team or really all of the teams for a full race uninterrupted with rain, and Chase, two second‑place finishes, talk about that going into Talladega next week.
DENNY HAMLIN: I think we're always prepared to go the distance. I think the adjustments they made before tech last night was based off of our race today. I think we would be caught more off guard if this race went into night than if it went off as scheduled today.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, it's nice to run in the top 5 solidly. Obviously you hate to run second because that means you were close to first, but hopefully we'll have our day sometime.

Q. Denny, I know Martin won the race, but it seemed like today was the first time in these playoffs that we've seen a lot more of a fight persistently throughout the race from Harvick in a Ford and then you've got Larson and Elliott that were up there towards the end. Do you still feel like the Toyotas have the dominance that they've shown the last five weeks, or do you guys feel like maybe the gap has closed somewhat?
DENNY HAMLIN: Oh, I think the gap is gone, honestly. We qualified front row with JGR, but that's one lap. I noticed in practice, though, that our cars were spread out all through the field, so I definitely thought that we were not as strong when we showed up this week as we'd been in weeks past, or other guys just were a little faster, which is to be expected, honestly, at this time of the year. Guys are going to step up their games and bring the best of the best.

Q. And Chase, for you, Denny cited the humidity just before you got in here. Obviously we saw it was a really physical, really grueling race. What did you feel in your car? What were the challenges for you as far as this day goes and going the full chance?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, it was hot, for sure, one of the‑‑ I'd say one of the hottest or toughest races of the year from that perspective. I thought we kind of had a mild summer in my opinion, and it was humid and hot today for‑‑ here we are in October, so definitely warm.

Q. Chase, do you feel any better after today, you're second where you're sitting after last week?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Definitely doesn't make last week any better by any means, but the way we've run over the past two weeks is definitely refreshing. You hope that we can keep running like we are, and like I said a minute ago, if we can, then opportunities will definitely be there. If we capitalize on them, hopefully we'll have our day.

Q. We heard Kevin Harvick in his post‑race interview talk about how the traction compound was definitely going away as the race went on. Was that something you guys noticed while you were driving out there? Was it a challenge to find grip as that traction compound went away?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I thought it went away a little bit. It was definitely pretty grippy up there, and just never seemed like the top‑top came in. I guess guys were just a little skeptical to get up there. It never really got dusted off, so it was hard to leave that middle groove from what I saw.

Q. I know this was touched on a little bit, but can each of you just talk about a humid day like today being behind the wheel for 500 miles, three hours, and the challenge of keeping focus when it gets down to the end of these things?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, it's nothing I haven't seen before. You're prepared for it. We always know the 500 miles here at Charlotte is like 600 somewhere else sometimes. So yeah, it's‑‑ I think the humidity probably is what drained me the most today. You know, like I say, there's a lot of salt stains all over my suit, so that tells me dehydration was definitely a factor today.

Q. Top‑5 finishes are nice, but next week the wild card is in this segment, Talladega, and nothing is guaranteed going into that track. Just your thoughts going into that one with the nice finish today and how you hope to not go backwards next week with everything that's uncertain.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, I like the change to move it to the middle. It definitely‑‑ I think everyone has to race all day. You know, I think that there will be battles all through the stages to try to get points just in case you get in a wreck late. It doesn't hurt as bad, but we've seen the fall Talladega race be a lot of carnage, and I would suspect it's going to be the same. You just hope you're the lucky one that gets through it.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, we appreciate you spending some time with us and wish you the best of luck next weekend.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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