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August 22, 2020

Denny Hamlin

Dover, Delaware

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our race winner, Denny Hamlin, driver of the No.11 FedEx Office Toyota.
We'll start with questions for Denny.

Q. How confident were you that you'd be able to catch Martin? Martin said he felt like you had the better car all day.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I think we were a little better. They got us there in the pit area. We fell back to fourth on that restart. He was able to stretch it while I was trying to get around the 2 and the 18.
Yeah, we were better. We just took that whole last stage to get back to him. But I was confident.

Q. As far as changes and adjustments you can make on the car between these two races, is it much different, the changes you can make, versus the previous two races at the bigger Pocono and Michigan tracks?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, there's probably less that you'll do. You won't be doing anything aerodynamically. You won't be taking drag out and downforce or anything like that. It's all probably setup based. This will be one of the doubleheaders that the team guys relatively have less to do, I guess you could say, than what they would on the other tracks.
But it's all setup based. I need to get to work on that and get Chris a direction.

Q. Did I hear you guys had a loose wheel on your car post race?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I thought we had a loose wheel. I think we had like a nut off.

Q. Just a single lug nut?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, that's all I could see, was one lug nut. Yeah, I thought I felt a little bit of grinding here and there. Wasn't anything too bad obviously.

Q. Being that Dover has been a challenging racetrack for you in the past, to get the win here today, what does this one mean for you?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, it has. Hasn't been my best by any means. I got teammates that are probably the best in the business when it comes to this track. I just study them and try to replicate their style at this racetrack. Once I adapt, then I can give the feedback to tell them what to do with the car.
I think my style of driving typically doesn't fit this type of racetrack. I have to adapt more to my teammates' style when I come here.

Q. For tomorrow's race, you said the changes you guys will make will likely be more mechanical setup than aero. What does need to get better on your car for tomorrow's race?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, we got to work on our balance from the beginning of the run to the end of the run. I certainly think our car's pretty good. We still just got a little bit of work to do. I really kind of need to dive into the data and figure out where is my weakness and go to work on that.
I certainly think we're pretty good. It looked like me and Martin and Kyle there for a while were kind of the class. I'm sure we'll be battling those guys again, then everybody else is going to make adjustments and make a run at us.
We've got to adapt, we've got to go.

Q. Less than a hundred laps to go, you were behind Brad, Kyle, Martin. You said you were confident. What was it about where you were in the race that you felt good about getting to the front?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, kind of when I got around Brad, started running the leaders back down, the 19 and 18, I could see I was gaining on them. I didn't think my car was exactly right at that point. I knew we were going to come in for a pit stop. I needed to tell the crew chief what we needed to work on. When we came back out, I was confident that he was going to have a better racecar for me.
It was better. We just kept pushing and pushing till we got there. But certainly I was confident seeing that in the long run it looked like our car was the best.

Q. Martin kept hugging the low line. You were going more up top. Talk about the difference between the two styles.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, we definitely had different styles. He's one of those guys that definitely pins his car to the bottom here. That's good. It is the fastest way around. If you get caught in traffic where you have another guy that stays on the bottom, if you don't have a car that adapts and is able to go to the middle and high line, you're going to find yourself stuck behind him and lose a lot of track time.
When we caught a lap car, we would go to a different line and run the same speed. That was the key to our success versus the 19.

Q. You're winning so much. When you win a race right now, is your first reaction, Sweet, we won a race, Monster trophy? Or is it, Sweet, Playoff points?
DENNY HAMLIN: I'm thinking about Playoff points to be honest with you. Even though everyone would say, We're a lock, it's not a lock. I've had such crazy shit happen to me in these Playoffs during the course of my career, I don't want to take no chances. I just want to lock in all the Playoff points I can possibly get and get to Phoenix and give myself a shot.
I just won an opportunity. That's all I can ask for. It's one race, winner take all. Hopefully we take our A game and I'll be ready.

Q. Can you reflect on what it means right now, this late in the regular season, to come out of here with max points?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I never thought it was going to happen here at Dover.
I mean, my crew chief said last night, You ready?
I said, I'm always ready. I'm always prepared.
He said, All right, we're going to go win tomorrow.
He's confident. Any time I get a message like that I'm pretty confident that whatever he sees in simulation world he likes. It typically equals a good day for us. Today was a good one.

Q. What can you say about Gabehart? He just seems to have you really jacked up in a good way.
DENNY HAMLIN: He just pushes me, pushes and pushes. Even at the end of the race, 15, 20 to go, he's telling me, Whip it, harder, harder.
I'm like, I'm as hard as I can go.
That's his attitude, keep pushing me, keep going, give it all I got. It's big motivation. You always think that you're getting the best out of yourself. Certainly a guy like him can figure out a way to get just a little bit more out of you.

Q. What was the role of patience in that race in making sure you came out on top?
DENNY HAMLIN: My spotter really kind of did that, Chris Lambert, did a good job. When I would switch lines to the middle lane or the top lane, they were telling me, That's good enough. You're not to him yet, but at that pace you're going to catch him and should get him. Don't step over the boundary. You're already gaining on him, you don't need to get more than that.
That kind of keeps me in check to make sure I'm not making a mistake when I'm trying to run them down. It's tough. I mean, these cars are on the edge here at Dover. You're sliding all over the place. You want to do everything you can to push. You can slide over it really, really easily.
I think my team does a good job of letting me know that pace is good enough. You don't need to step any more because they know we're already on the edge.

Q. You got to do this again tomorrow. It's a tough track. What is the mentality?
DENNY HAMLIN: Hydration, nutrition. Those are the two things that I'll focus on tonight, is making sure that I get everything that I need to hydrate. The team gave me their milkshake order. I have to go across the street. Their garage don't close till 11:00 tonight. I have to fulfill their milkshake orders because they're going to be here working on that car late night.

Q. You've obviously achieved in lot in your career. Have you ever been in a zone like this year and last?
DENNY HAMLIN: No, no way. There's been no year where it's been like this. It's every week. I mean, it's literally every single week. We set some lofty goals at the beginning the year to try to win 10 races. It's still achievable. I mean, we should have more than six easily.
We're just rolling right now. We're rolling at tracks that we just are not typically great at. That gives me confidence. Any of these tracks where we go back to for the second time, we have information we got from previous races, Chris just dials it in, really does a good job with the racecar.
Our process is working right now. My preparation is working. It's all paying off.

Q. When you said you study your teammates, try to replicate them, is there anything you tried to do, emulate, that you learned from them?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, Truex runs the bottom so well here at this racetrack, I pay attention to the way he uses the throttle to get the car to turn, how he uses his brake application to get in the corner. There's just a lot of things I learn from Martin at this particular racetrack.
My teammates all have their specialties when it comes to certain racetracks. Anywhere that I feel like they're definitely better than me ‑ and this is one of the tracks ‑ I'll just go to work and try to do everything to replicate their style, then be disciplined about that style, then I'll go back and get Chris to work on the car based off of that.

Q. You mentioned how this year isn't like any previous season. With all this confidence going into the Playoffs, how can you almost not get too overconfident? You haven't had great luck in the past in the Playoffs. How can you not take it for granted?
DENNY HAMLIN: If we don't win the championship this year, we still can win a boatload of races. I'll take that and be happy with it. I've talked about this a million times during the media stuff. I just want to win every week. If we can win 35 races, for some reason we don't win the 36th, the championship race, still a hell of a year. That's better than any other year anyone else had, even the champion.
I just try to win every week. That's the goal: get ourselves to the final four and see how the race plays out. Sometimes it plays out in your favor, sometimes it doesn't. I know that we are a championship team regardless of whether we have the trophy or not. We're plenty capable. It's just a tough business when it comes down to it. When you run 36, it comes down to one.

Q. You have three Toyotas in the top three today. Does it feel good that the Toyota Camry is starting to come together now?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, certainly. I mean, I knew this would be a good day for JGR. Like I said, my teammates I think are the best two drivers at this racetrack. We've started to see some light at the end of the tunnel for us. I think Kansas was a good sign, a lot of our cars in the top five there. We went to Michigan and had three of our cars in the top five.
Been trending better and better as an organization for the last month or so. I knew today was going to be a good day for JGR. Obviously the results showed that.

Q. Everyone has been comparing you and Kevin Harvick since we've been back. Does it feel good to even up the wins at six apiece?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I think we've been‑‑ we've definitely been one of the strongest for sure. I think Kevin probably is going to win the regular season championship. We've come from a long way back and gained quite a bit.
For me it's all about bonus points. Right now I think we're second. We've tied for the most wins, have the most stage wins. We're good. I wouldn't change a thing right now. Like I say, we're just trying to get to the final four, then the other 35 races don't matter.

Q. This was win six for you. Everyone has been talking about how the 11 team, everyone is playing their part, hitting on all cylinders. With this being such an unprecedented year with COVID‑19, how have you been able to develop that chemistry, besides milkshakes?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, me and Chris have a great process that we go through to prepare for races. I think it works. Whatever it is, our process is working really well right now. I don't want to give away any internal secrets. We've got a good thing going. It seems like for the last 18, 19 months I guess you could say we've just been a great pair.
It's become the norm. I don't even know. The excitement level is not quite as high as it was before because we are winning so much now. But it does drive me to just continue to push and try to win each and every week.
I can't wait to kind of get back in there, get in the garage, talk things over, figure out how we can make it better. We still have room to improve.

Q. What does it mean to cross off a track that you haven't won at before, be able to break through, get a victory?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, it's awesome. I mean, I can't even tell you. The Monster trophy is very, very cool. I've always been very envious of the people that had them. I felt like I was always a fifth‑place driver at this racetrack. Like I said, my teammates were in front, a few more here and there that were slightly better at times.
I feel like I've gotten better. Obviously I'm in the prime of my career right now, got things rolling. But this definitely gives me a ton of confidence winning at a track I would arguably say is my worst.
THE MODERATOR: Denny, thanks for joining us. Congratulations on the win today. Good luck tomorrow.
DENNY HAMLIN: Appreciate it. Thank you.

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