|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
June 14, 2020
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us here this evening. We know it's late. We appreciate you giving us a couple minutes.
We will go ahead and take questions for Denny Hamlin.
Q. Have you had time for it to set in that this is your 40th career win, and where that puts you, 19th all time wins? The other three active drivers in the sport with 40 wins, they're champions, likely to be first round Hall of Famers.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, it's a good number. It's a number that I've been looking at for quite a few years. At one point I didn't know if I'd get there. I've adjusted my goals since then. There's a bigger number I'd like to get to.
We've been on a roll these last two years. Myself and Chris have a good thing going. It just works. We have the crazy races like we had last week, but then we come back and do something like this.
I don't know. Cars are driving good. I still don't think we're at the top of our game with our team yet. I think we're still got some room to get better. I'm pretty happy that we're able to reel off some wins right now given the circumstances.
Q. What was the catalyst for you reevaluating your numbers? What is that next number?
DENNY HAMLIN: I don't know. Just I think it depends on how long I go. For me there's no end in sight. As long as I keep running like this and have success, I don't know, you keep moving it. You keep just moving the bar just a little bit higher.
I mean, I don't take for granted that the people that are in front of me are great, allâ€‘time great drivers. I never thought I'd be in this position whatsoever. I've just been really, really blessed to be with the same sponsor, the same car and the same team for all of my career.
Q. What do you think about not having practice at Talladega? Are you confident that everything you could do at Daytona and Talladega normally will work? Do you wish you had practice?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I think it will be harder to pass the leader just a little bit because with the leader having those ducts, it really gives him a lot of drag. I think the runs won't be quite as big as what we had in the past, but still we've run a different package at superspeedways almost every other year.
We'll adapt pretty quickly. So for me there's not really any concerns.
Q. Will it change the way you race early because you don't have practice?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, when I say 'early', first couple laps. I'll know in the first couple laps how big the runs are, what kind of gap I need to have to the person behind me to give me the run forward. I'll know pretty quick what to do with the package.
I think we have probably a pretty good idea of it anyway. These ducts are actually a pretty new thing. Obviously the horsepower being down, that might counter the ducts a little bit with the runs. I don't know.
These drivers are so good, they're going to figure it out pretty quick. I wouldn't expect anything out of the ordinary.
Q. At this point in your career with the wins and everything you've accomplished, do you feel it's championship or bust, and a successful season doesn't happen unless you win the championship?
DENNY HAMLIN: No, I don't believe that at all. I think a championship nowadays is won in one race. It's not a big picture of your whole season. Last season was a great season for us. I would have a season like that every year. I would take that.
Won six races. We're halfway there already. Should have won Bristol. I don't know how many times I got to say that. Stupid driver. I just want to keep winning. That's all I care about is just keep winning. Almost like any other sport, you just want to win the last game of the season. We'll keep going until we win the last one.
Q. When do you start thinking Playoffs, start planning?
DENNY HAMLIN: All the time. I thought about the bonus points today. Seven more bonus points by winning both stages in the race, that goes a long way. I'm excited about hopefully moving up in the points. We've had such upâ€‘andâ€‘down results. We've been really fast, but upâ€‘andâ€‘down results here and there.
I'm pretty excited that we got the most bonus points right now. I just want to keep building on that.
Q. What is it like for somebody who came from the short tracks, got in this sport not sure what would happen, now you're on the allâ€‘time win list tied with Mark Martin? You passed Matt Kenseth and Tim Flock, other Hall of Famers within your reach.
DENNY HAMLIN: I don't know. I need to think about it. Win number 40 is special. I can't downplay it. I know how special and how much it means to me. It will take some time for me to understand what it means to me. The accomplishment, it's a big number, a number I never thought I would get to.
I don't know. Those people you mentioned are in my mind head and shoulders better than I am. I just have been blessed to have fast cars and be able to execute and do some good things at the right time. I never just imagined 2006, coming in the first year, now having 40.
Q. Seemed like Joey kind of tried to hold Chase up there when you were battling. Chase afterwards twice would say that I need to get through lap traffic better. Do you think that was a result of their bad blood from Bristol or normal racing? What were we seeing there?
DENNY HAMLIN: I'm sure that Joey probably ran him pretty hard there. I think most people would, given the Bristol situation. You almost as a driver kind of got to expect it.
I mean, I don't think it cost Chase the win. We had already ran him down. Yeah, we were in the middle of battling him, but I don't think it cost him the race. I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. It's all speculative. You kind of have to ask Joey.
The way I saw it, he was very generous to me. That's all I know. I appreciated that. I don't think he really ran Chase hard. He just didn't let Chase clear. I don't know if he was battling right there for staying on the lead lap. Looked like two down, I'm rewatching the race.
He just didn't let Chase clear. If Chase could have cleared him... I don't think he really held him up, he just didn't give him the spot.
Q. Obviously the Xfinity Series had its doubleheader this weekend. Anything that the Cup teams are going to be able to take away from this weekend and apply to Pocono?
DENNY HAMLIN: To this racetrack, no, probably not. They are just too different. You'll come with a different type of car build, a car with obviously a little bit less drag. This is a track that wears out the tire quick, over two seconds of falloff. Pocono doesn't relate to it very much.
I'm looking forward to the doubleheader. I think we perform really, really good when we can think about things overnight, especially our race, go back and do it again. I love our chances when it comes to races like that.
Q. The MJ shrug at the end. Haven't seen that before.
DENNY HAMLIN: I knew he was watching. I looked and he was one of the first guys to text me.
Why not? After a performance like that, after a shitty one we had last week, might as well live it up a little bit.
Q. Seems like you're feeling a different type of way after this win. Is it too much to read into the situation that the stuff on Twitter this week played into that?
DENNY HAMLIN: I mean, I'm motivated. I'm motivated more than ever. Like I said to my crew chief, no matter what is said on social media, he's always going to get the best out of me. Sometimes â€‘ sometimes â€‘ like MJ said, you find a way to motivate yourself. Certainly there was a little extra motivation.
Q. We've gotten used to this being the championship race. Do you think drivers, because this race was midâ€‘season instead of end of season, do you think drivers were less inhibited? Do you think that contributed to you, Chase, Ryan and Tyler battling for the win at the end?
DENNY HAMLIN: No. I just think we all had the best cars. Mix in maybe Blaney there, as well. I thought right from the getâ€‘go, all four of us were up front, had the best cars. That's why we were battling for the win there.
I mean, it was tough. Some of the lap traffic was tough for me to get around. It's a product of it. We did all we could. I tried all I could that last run once I passed Chase to leg it out and get a gap. I couldn't shake him.
It seems like I was a little gun shy because of what happened at Bristol. I kept pushing when I was in the lead with 10 to go and made a mistake. I didn't want to run up next to the wall when I got the lead. Chase was making up so much ground on me by putting his car at risk when I didn't want to do that quite yet.
I kind of ran as hard as I needed to there at the end. It was just enough. I thought the lap traffic raced relatively normal.
Q. When you're dealing with lap traffic, what is the etiquette that you expect from them?
DENNY HAMLIN: I'm sorry, you need to repeat it. I didn't hear it.
Q. Your thoughts on what do you expect etiquetteâ€‘wise from lap traffic?
DENNY HAMLIN: I mean, it just kind of depends on what their situation is, when it is in the race. I think when you're getting down to the end, if you're multiple laps down, sure, you're probably going to give the spot up a little bit easier.
Some of these guys are battling to stay on the lead lap. Say it's 20 to go, they're in a pack with two or three guys that they're racing to try to stay on the lead lap, they're going to race you hard. It's up to you as the leader to be fast enough to get around them.
That's probably a little bit of what Chase was talking about, as well. I just got to get better through traffic.
I saw him getting tight there, kind of struggling way before he got to the 22. Lap traffic is just part of racing. You got to have a car that works in multiple lanes so you can pass them. I think that's what our strong suit was, to be able to go to the bottom, make passes, run the same lap time no matter where we were on the racetrack.
Q. Nine wins in 48 starts with Chris as your crew chief. What is it about you two that clicks?
DENNY HAMLIN: I trust him and he trusts me. It just seems like I trust him to do the job. He trusts me to do the job. He doesn't second guess me. I don't second guess him. I don't get into the nuts and bolts of the setup. That's his fortĂ©. He doesn't get into the driving aspect for me.
I drive a little bit more unorthodox than what my teammates do. He just said that it's been successful, it's up to me to build the car to go fast the way you do it. He doesn't ask me to change and I don't ask him to change. I think it just works.
He's just a hard worker. Last weekend, he was pissed off. Probably more pissed than I was. I left the racetrack, just got to let it go, nothing I can do about it. I drove it as hard as I can drive it and we just sucked. He was on the phone saying that this is just unacceptable, that he's going to have people's rearâ€‘ends, we're going to push and we're going to make sure we get to Homestead and we go win.
That's more of a rahâ€‘rah type speech, but I don't doubt it. I know when we get here he's more motivated, just like I am, especially after a bad week like we had.
Q. I'm confused about the thing with you and LaJoie. Is it personal? Did it start as a joke and escalated to that? Where does it stand now?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, a little bit. We had some discussions. I think we both took some things personal. I should say we were both pretty sensitive to what the other was saying.
I know Corey enough, like I said to him, to mess with him. I only mess with the people I like. I don't mess with the people I don't like. I think he was sensitive to what I was saying, made some remarks that were pretty sensitive to me.
I understand his stance and he understands mine. Mine was to win the races I've won, I didn't have the best car every time. I still have to go out and beat probably some of the best drivers in history that drive for Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewartâ€‘Haas and Penske.
No one gave me anything. My parents had nothing, like nothing nothing. I got here the oldâ€‘fashioned way. Any time you feel like anyone says, Hey, if I had what you had, I could do that, it's offensive. It's a little offensive because you know personally how hard you worked to get there.
I took offense to it. He took offense to the things that I said. I understand it was a missâ€‘â€‘ just kind of two guys that were talking about some sensitive subjects. I think we're okay now.
THE MODERATOR: Denny, congrats. We appreciate your time. Wish you the best of luck next week in Talladega.
DENNY HAMLIN: All right. Appreciate it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports