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August 29, 2020

Denny Hamlin

Daytona Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Denny Hamlin, driver of the No.11 JGR Toyota, our third‑place finisher.
Talk us through the final laps in overtime.
DENNY HAMLIN: Just disappointed I didn't do a good job. I don't know, lack of focus, whatever it is. Just not executing. If you have control of a green‑white‑checkered on a speedway, most of the time the win is going to come from the front row, you just to make sure you make the right moves.
I just didn't after I took the green. I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't have a push from the 21. I was clear, the 24 just didn't pull down. I don't know what I was doing.
Disappointing. I guess we escaped some mayhem. We were in some mayhem. Just a crazy race. Everyone kind of out there for themselves, all pushing and shoving, body slamming and whatnot.
Decent finish. I hate having control and not finishing.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Denny.

Q. During the last caution, it looked like you got up next to the 24 car and looked at the tire, is that correct?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, they wanted us to look at it.

Q. What did you see?
DENNY HAMLIN: The 'Goodyear' was rubbed off of it. It looked like the left rear quarter panel was cutting into the sidewall, right from where the tread meets.
I told them I don't want to make the call. It's definitely rubbing. It's just a matter of weighing the risk. I said, I don't know, think about your situation, do whatever you think is best.

Q. Were you thinking they needed to pit?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I think going for his first win...

Q. Would you want to pit in that situation?
DENNY HAMLIN: No. Going for my first win, no. I think going for your first win is bigger than making the Playoffs, to be honest. I think he gets a good shot for a first win if he stays out.
It wasn't smoking bad when he was weaving. There was definitely rub there. It lasted two laps. That's all it needed to do.

Q. You had a pretty good look at the move made by Tyler Reddick. A lot of guys were criticizing him for being pretty aggressive there. Do you have any opinion on that? Do you blame him being aggressive going for the win?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, no, I don't blame him. Everyone makes the moves they think is good for them. It's tough when you switch lanes in the middle of a corner. These things have such big closing rates, it's hard to slide up in front of someone. Even on the last lap I slid up in front of somebody that I was just not clear. Luckily we hung, but we didn't crash.
It's just really tough with the big runs that these cars get to make big, abrupt moves. But most of the guys that win make those moves. It's just that they make it work.

Q. How did you feel the guys who were trying to race their way into the Playoffs were racing tonight? You see Reddick make a move like he did, are you thinking that's what he has to do to win and get in?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, obviously with the move I saw him make, he was trying to get to the top and get cleared, not get stuck on the bottom. I mean, I don't know, I don't fault anyone for any moves, even if they don't work. They think it will work at the time so they're doing what is best for them.
For 10 years or eight years of my career, I couldn't do anything right on a superspeedway. I can't judge anyone who pulls a move off and doesn't make it work.

Q. When did you start focusing on the Playoffs this year? Was there a point this year where you knew you were solid?
DENNY HAMLIN: We haven't shifted our focus from our daily routine and weekly routine of focusing our efforts on winning that particular week. If you want to make it through the Playoffs, you build up a cushion through your Playoff points to go out there and go to the Playoffs.
We focus every week. Next week there will not be any more effort put in than what has been put in during the regular season. That's why we have the Playoff points we have, is because we focus every week as if we have to win this week.

Q. With Daytona, for years it's been held 4th of July weekend. This year it got moved to the last race of the regular season. How did the move impact the intensity of the race later and later into the race?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I thought it did. I mean, maybe. If you would look at this race historically, as well, it typically is a wild and crazy race. When you have everyone kind of fighting for those spots in the Playoffs, it's going to be even crazier it gets down to the last 10 laps.
If you have anyone remotely that needs a win in the top five, they're going to make aggressive moves. Aggressive moves most times don't work out. It's deemed and defined an aggressive move because it's not traditional and it hasn't worked in the past very much.
There's a risk‑reward. These people have nothing to lose at this point when it gets down to the final race of the regular season, 10 laps to go. They're going to do everything they can.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much for taking the time to join us. We will see you at Darlington.
DENNY HAMLIN: Sounds good.

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