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August 16, 2020

Denny Hamlin

Daytona Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by today's second‑place finisher in the Go Bowling 235, Denny Hamlin, driver of the FedEx Freight Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Denny, talk about what it was like taking those 36 guys into Turn 1 today at the race.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, it was fun. The track was a lot of fun. It was the first laps I got to run on it was today. Definitely a fun road course. It's got some good passing zones, good opportunities. You've got to really make sure your car is good in the fast stuff and in the infield in the slower corners. I think it's definitely one of my favorite road courses I run for sure.

Q. Denny, what were your overall impressions of the race today? Maybe it was a little bit less of a cluster than many of us thought it would be.
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, these drivers are really, really good. Myself and some friends were talking about that before the race today, and we were like, I wonder how many cautions there will be. I'm like, these guys are pretty good. They found a way to adapt and they've got a lot of tools to help them prepare for these races.
I mean, these are pros, and you see a clean race whenever you see the driver quality that we have in the Cup Series.

Q. Sort of along those lines, you before the race were a proponent, give us at least 30 minutes of practice because it could be total mayhem down in Turn 1 on the opening lap. How surprised were you that either on that opening lap or the restarts we didn't see the mayhem you thought might have popped up.
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I think it's very fortunate we had a couple races in front of us. That kind of taught us a lesson. It was good, and Harvick and I actually‑‑ actually the top four, me, Harvick, Truex and Busch, all talked right before the race, and we said, okay, when we take off we're going to start braking right there. We're not going to have any secrets, let's make sure we don't look like a bunch of dummies there in Turn 1. We made sure we kept it clean to start, and then you can get your bearings about you after you run a few laps.
Really it's one of those tracks where I feel like it's not super technical, but it definitely rewards the guys that do the right techniques on road courses.

Q. And what about your team? No matter what racetrack, they throw a new racetrack, a road course, and yet you're right there challenging for the win again. Your thoughts on your team and where you're at right now?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, our margin to victory has got to be the least of anyone at this point. We keep getting to the leader's bumper at the end, but we haven't found a way around him.
I knew that my strong suit was the backstretch chicane and the frontstretch chicane, and I just wanted to stay within about three car lengths, and unfortunately I came off four car lengths behind or five car lengths behind, I'm like, I'm going to get there, but without kind of dive bombing in the last corner it's just not going to work.
I could have, but it's just I was going to probably spin him and maybe myself out with it. I just thought it wasn't my day. It was my day to finish second, and it was fun. I kept him honest there. He just‑‑ he had such a good drive off, I couldn't do anything with him.

Q. With multiple races on the Roval and then coming here to Daytona and running this road course, how much of a difference was there in today's race and what you've experienced at the Roval?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, yeah, the Roval has just been a challenge in general. I don't think that that's really a‑‑ I talked about it. I love Marcus and those guys, but that track is kind of a little bit hokey compared to this one where this road course has been part of this racetrack for a long time. It was made for this racetrack, where I think Charlotte just tried to make one to fit their track. There's a lot of off‑camber corners and it's super narrow and blind in a lot of spots. So it's just different.
But I think that they're just different in general. Even though they looked similar. But overall I think that this is one that I favor for sure, and it's one that I would like to see if we could put it on the schedule. I'd love to see it. I think it's a good racetrack for us.

Q. That restart with three laps to go, were you expecting just complete mayhem going into Turn 1?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yes and no. I knew Chase wasn't going to miss his marks, and I actually spun my tires pretty good on that restart. I just didn't want to overdrive it and not give myself a chance, and so I did drive in there pretty deep, and I got it to rotate pretty good, and my main key was to get to second by the time I got to Turn 3, and we were able to do that. But Chase just got out there. We could gain like a car length a lap and then I gained it all in those last two corners.
I just wanted to keep him honest, and it seemed like the closer we got, the more his car was either wheel hopping or sliding the front tires. We were at least kind of keeping him honest there to make him push his car to earn the victory.

Q. How did the meeting among the top four starters come together, just come naturally on the grid or something you guys were talking about beforehand?
DENNY HAMLIN: Kevin came up to me on the grid right before the anthem, and I think Kyle and Martin were talking at Martin's car, and they saw me and Harvick talking so they walked over and said, how are we going to do this. It was orchestrated well, and obviously it made us look like professionals instead of some of the other restarts that we've seen this weekend.
I'd rather mess up‑‑ I've been talking about the first corner obviously in my tweets yesterday. Like I say, my braking points were not exact, so enter at your own risk.

Q. I don't know if you saw, but Ryan Newman thanked all the track workers before the race. I'm just wondering, it was probably pretty emotional for him to be back here. How did you guys feel about that?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, I hadn't even thought about it, to be honest with you. I think that when it happens to you, you're always going to have different feelings than people that weren't involved. But certainly I'm sure he is very thankful. I think they did a great job. When NASCAR kind of gave us the time stamp of how quick they were to the car, how quick they got him out, all that data, I think that the track staff deserves a ton of credit for how they responded to that wreck, and obviously I went to see Ryan at the hospital that night, and he was doing well, and so I think that it's good that we've got people with experience like the staff here at Daytona that you can trust that wrecks are going to happen, but you know you've got the best staff available to come help you in case you need it.

Q. Denny, Chase now has won three straight road races. I would say before he won at the Glen, I'm not sure I would have thought he was a road racing ace, but now obviously he looks great. Did you see this coming? What do you see out of him that makes him a good road racer?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I think he takes a little bit untraditional lines. I think he does a great job of staying out of the rubber. I think his car really does a lot of good things that you would like for your car to do. Their car doesn't move around a whole lot, with roll and pitch and whatnot. So I think they've really got a great road course setup, and he executes it, and that's going to equal a lot of success.
It's up to us to kind of figure it out.

Q. We were supposed to run the low downforce package for the road course races this year, but for this weekend at Daytona we had the bigger spoiler for it. What effect did that have on the race, especially with that run to the finish, trying to chase down Chase Elliott?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, if anything it gave us maybe a little bit more of a chance because there was a little bit of a draft there on the backstretch to the front chicane. I don't know. I think that this was probably the right package for this track. We don't have the best brakes on these cars. These are not six‑piston brakes like you would like to have. But these things just‑‑ you've got to have something to slow us down, and that blade is probably the best thing for it because I think in the data it showed that we were going to be running 200 plus into Turn 1 and we don't have enough brakes to slow these cars down. They chose the right package for it; I'm pretty certain of that.
THE MODERATOR: Denny, thanks again for the time and congrats on the finish today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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