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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: SPRINT UNLIMITED


February 15, 2014


J.D. Gibbs

Darian Grubb

Denny Hamlin


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

KERRY THARP:テつ Our race winner for the second time in his career, winning the Sprint Unlimited, Denny Hamlin.テつ He's joined by his crew chief Darian Grubb and team president J.D. Gibbs.
Denny, last time we did one of these deals was at Homestead‑Miami.テつ You win here.テつ It's got to feel like you got a little mojo going.
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ Yeah, definitely.テつ It's been a great start to Speedweeks obviously.テつ This is a very small part of what goes into this weekend, or these two weeks.テつ But obviously it feels good to have all the accomplishments that we've had in such a short amount of time.
We're motivated anyway for the start of this year, and obviously expectations were really high within our team.テつ But this obviously gives us even more.
KERRY THARP:テつ Darian, certainly getting off to a quick start, class of the field here tonight.テつ Talk about how that can parlay into the big race a week from tomorrow, the 56th running of the Daytona 500.
DARIAN GRUBB:テつ It's just a big deal all the way around, having the win at the end of the season last year to boost our confidence after the year we had, then starting the season off this year with all the other changes and things going on.テつ A lot of work, a lot of new equipment, a lot of new faces, still coming to the racetrack and performing, we're really looking forward to getting this season kicked off.テつ Now we're looking forward to going out there and getting points.
KERRY THARP:テつ J.D., talk about the 11 car, the way that it's not only finished the season last year, but started off the season so far this year.テつ Kyle Busch had a pretty good race here tonight, as well.
J.D. GIBBS:テつ Yeah, it was great to finish last season the way we did at Homestead.テつ It's so great to start the season here in Victory Lane tonight.テつ We're so proud of Darian and Denny and the whole team.
I think our whole team does a really good job, so we're looking forward to this year.
KERRY THARP:テつ We'll take questions.

Q.テつ Denny, in 2010 when you had your knee issues, you were motivated, won eight races that season.テつ Is this a similar situation, you're coming back, you want to prove to everybody you're the old Denny Hamlin?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ More so I'd like to prove it to myself.テつ Homestead kind of came out of the blue, especially how our year had went.テつ We started feeling better.テつ I realized after the win in Homestead, how I was feeling, that we run as good as I feel.テつ When I feel comfortable in the car, especially in long runs and everything, you know, I can do just about anything I need to do to be a race winner.
So it's more proving it to myself than proving it to other people.テつ You know, you don't like to talk about what you're going to do; I'd like to just show what we can do.

Q.テつ Denny, I asked you when you were in here the other day about winning this in 2006.テつ How does this compare?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ It's different.テつ I mean, it's a lot of the same, a lot different.テつ Obviously when you win anything, it helps a lot of things.テつ It really helps with team morale.テつ Even these guys work as hard as they can no matter what, you got your chest pumped out a little bit, you got your head up.テつ It gives you a little bit more confidence, everyone.
We have a couple key different guys within our road team pit crew that are small changes with your crew, but we still have the core group that have been with this team for a long time.テつ It's good to get them a win.テつ It's good to get Darian and myself a win.
Winning never hurts anything, especially when you finish a year with a win and then start the year with a win.テつ You think the sky's the limit.テつ You think you can win every race from here on out.

Q.テつ Denny, could you take us through that last pass?テつ Were you on two new tires or four?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ We chose to take two.テつ We took two on the mandatory pit stop.テつ When the 18 got sideways, I felt like I locked up the left front.テつ I might not have, but it put it in question.テつ So we decided to come and take four tires, I believe, with five laps to go, six laps to go.
Obviously, I didn't like where I was at, being towards the back of the pack with very few cars.テつ Passing's going to be tough no matter what aero package they have in these cars.テつ The fewer the cars, the tougher it is to get runs.テつ That's probably what saved us at the end of the race is that the few guys that were left were fighting each other versus lining up and getting a run on us once we got out there so far.
But, you know, I had my teammate back there, and I didn't for the previous run.テつ He got his car fixed good enough to where he restarted either right in front of or behind me.テつ Anyway, he got around me.
So we had an opportunity to push him wherever he wanted to go.テつ And the lane started opening up.テつ Me and Kyle started getting huge runs towards the front.テつ Just started picking 'em off one by one over the course after lap and a half.テつ Once I pushed him beside the 2, I had somebody behind me, I backed off and got a big enough gap to where I knew I was going to have to make a decision whether to push him or try to get the win for ourselves.
You know, had it been a few more laps left, I definitely would have pushed him.テつ But coming to the white, I felt like if I got clear of those guys three‑wide getting into turn three, it would be tough for them to beat us.
Luckily by an inch or two we got clear of our teammate and got a good 1‑3 finish and the gamble paid off.

Q.テつ Darian, did you say anything to Denny before that final pass?テつ Did you know maybe he had a little something more that hadn't been shown yet?
DARIAN GRUBB:テつ We knew the car was fast just from some of the other moves he had pulled off earlier in the race.テつ Kind of starting up front, falling to the back, working his way back up front, we knew there was potential there.テつ There was a lot more cars on the track at that point.テつ We knew we didn't have a whole lot of help at that point.テつ Everybody was fighting for themselves.
With 20 to go, told him it was all in his hands at that point.テつ We ended up having to do another pit stop after that, because we did slide the tires there trying to dodge a couple of the wrecks.テつ He did a great job of that.テつ Kept the car in one piece.テつ Went and did the rest himself.

Q.テつ Denny, you alluded to the core group.テつ It seems like the 48, it's no secret their success has been rooted in their consistency.テつ To what extent do you think continuity is important?テつ You have the same sponsor, the same equipment, same crew chief.テつ Can you speak to that?テつ How will that help you guys maybe get over the top and beat the 48?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ Well, I think Darian probably would be the best to answer because he's in the shop every day with those guys.
But my opinion on it is that when you keep the same core group, they get to working with each other year after year, they kind of know each other's nuances and, you know, know where the other guy left off because they've been working together for a long time.
When you throw a couple new pieces in, sometimes you don't know their work habits, you don't know exactly how things go.テつ Nowadays, everything is so checklisted that it probably doesn't mean as much.テつ We lost our car chief at the end of last year who has been with us for a long time.テつ He's in our shop now, moved up in position.テつ We brought Wesley on.テつ He was on the 18 a couple years ago.
That's a key position, having the car chief change over in the off‑season.テつ So he's going to be working with our group.テつ Our mechanics that have been working on our car the last few years now.テつ I just think it helps when you know the guy working right next to you.テつ There's less chance for mistakes that way.
DARIAN GRUBB:テつ I can just add to that, it just makes our entire organization stronger because the changes that have been made, it's for guys that want to come off the road in the right time of their life, it actually gives them a boost in position, actually makes the departments in the shop stronger because we have the road crew experience.テつ They know exactly what we need as a race team.
We've realigned our whole organizational structure about supplying the three teams that we have with great teammates and giving us every tool we need to have when we go to the racetrack in order to be competitive.
J.D. GIBBS:テつ Basically I agree with both these guys.テつ I think any time you make a change, someone that's been with your team for a long time, has done a great job, it just helps and benefits the team.
One of our guys has been on the road forever, wants to do something in the shop, he'll do a great job in the shop.テつ The guy we promoted I think will do a great job at the track as well.

Q.テつ Do you feel the continuity you've shown is now maybe on par?テつ Has it become championship caliber?
J.D. GIBBS:テつ Yeah, I think it's always been that way at our shop.テつ We just haven't won a championship in a long time, so hopefully we have a shot this year.
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ I think the Gibbs organization in general, when you look at the dominance of the 48, there's some championships thrown in there with Darian and Tony, Paul and Brad a couple years before.テつ But the JGR cars, whether it be the 18, 20 or 11 are constantly the ones knocking on the door to the dominance of the 48.
You keep knocking, you'll have things go your way.テつ Give me that opportunity I had in 2010 back at Homestead, I can promise a different outcome.

Q.テつ Denny, interesting dynamic at the end of the race with so few cars.テつ You think it would be easier to win the race.テつ Everybody was being kind of selfish.テつ Because of that, did you think when you made your move you had to make a big, sweeping, take everybody at one time kind of move to have a shot at winning?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ Yeah, that was the thing, when I had the opportunity to make it three‑wide or push the 18, I knew if I pushed the 18, that would stall my momentum for at least a lap.テつ We were coming to the white anyway.
So I had a huge run and I needed to just keep that momentum going.テつ Now, had we not cleared the 18, we probably would have been sixth or seventh.テつ I mean, it was that close into turn three whether it was going to be a winning move or a goat move.
It was that close, and inches make or break you.テつ For us it was a decision that, you know, I made.テつ It worked out good for us.テつ The 18 probably would have won if we would have pushed him.テつ But obviously we had two‑out‑of‑three shots to win it.テつ I got to be selfish for myself and my team that work so hard on this car every week.

Q.テつ Denny, in the immediate aftermath of your victory at Homestead, you sounded a lot like the victory was sort of a relief.テつ In the last month and a half through the media tour, January testing, you've talked a lot more about it was more of a reaffirmation that you were as good as you were before the accident.テつ Now having won here tonight, how do you look at it now?テつ Is it more a continuation of where you left off in November or do you feel you could be better than you were before?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ Physically I feel like I can be better than I was before.テつ I feel like at the start of this season, I feel as good physically in the car over the course of long runs, better than I have for I can't even remember, probably rookie season maybe.
But on the other hand the realist in me knows this is superspeedway racing, it is different.テつ Once we get to the other tracks, three, four races down into the schedule, I'll know where we stand as far as are we fully back to ourselves.
Obviously there's nothing that takes away from what we did tonight because, you know, superspeedway racing, while sometimes it is by chance, it's not necessarily by chance that you win every segment and lead most of the laps, win the race, Happy Hour, best pit crew off pit road.テつ That shows strength, so that can't be taken for granted.

Q.テつ Kyle Busch said you're on a mission.テつ Do you have a different attitude this year than a year ago?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ I don't know if my attitude's different.テつ Attitude changed after California, for sure.テつ You know, you're always excited about starting the season, but for me it was more about really starting the season strong, to just totally forget about 2013.
I'm sure the questions will always continue.テつ I said during the media tour, Look, I don't want any more questions about last year once we start this year.テつ But I understand they're still going to be coming.テつ It's just I don't want to relive it.テつ It was a horrible year, definitely a year that you choose to forget.
But obviously this is huge motivation and confidence that we can do a lot of great things when all the pieces fall right for us.

Q.テつ What did you see when the pace car caught on fire?テつ Is that a first for you guys?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ Should have been driving a Camry (smiling).テつ That's all.
I saw smoke.テつ I thought he had a right rear going down, honestly.テつ I thought it was tire smoke until I saw flames.
KERRY THARP:テつ Congratulations to Denny Hamlin, Darian Grubb, Joe Gibbs Racing.テつ Continued success the rest of Speedweeks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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