Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin was made available to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway on Saturday.

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Mavis Tires & Brakes Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

What are your thoughts on the potential add of Long Beach to the NASCAR schedule? Are you happy with the current balance on the NASCAR schedule?

“I personally like the balance now. I don’t know what the infrastructure costs of us building a Chicago, surely it was a lot. It almost seems like you could build a short track about anywhere as well – just temporary asphalt and walls, things like we have at the Clash. I would like for us to stick to what we are versus going to too many road courses.”

What are the differences between day racing and night racing at Richmond Raceway?

“There hasn’t been from what understand. For as long as I’ve been doing it, it is still Richmond. It still wears out tires quite a bit. Maybe the tire wear is slightly less, but if anything, this new tire has more wear than our previous Richmond tires have had. I do still think it is going to be a best handling car and driver type of thing that will matter.”

Are you intentionally fostering the relationship with Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace with their social media posts together?

“It’s not intentional, no. I would say we let those guys be themselves and the sponsors are comfortable with them. That is why they’ve signed up with them. No, nothing intentional. It’s just kind of who they are.”

Did putting the entire organization on the Netflix show help the continued growth?

“We had those discussions early and when Netflix asked, how much access would be given to 23XI, I considered it very much the same of what I gave them – to bring all of the personnel around and say hey, this is what I expect you to do, as far as giving access, and they did that. It was a good for the narrative of the show.”

How important is it to win the pole at Martinsville?

“It’s big at Martinsville for sure. It’s not as big as Phoenix, but it is close – in that vicinity. I don’t know how many pole winners have finished in first, I don’t know the numbers exactly, but it is certainly an advantage, especially if you have a good pit crew that is very solid and is not going to make mistakes, you are probably going to gain a spot or two each time you go in the pit area. It is certainly an advantage.”

What does it mean to compete at your home track this weekend?

“I’m excited for this race. All week I’ve been excited to get here and kind of see where we stack up. Certainly, with the history we have here over the last three or four races here at Richmond, being in contention. I feel pretty strongly about it. I would say that this is one that historically that I’ve always been good at, JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) has always been really good at, and then with the momentum it seems like our cars have, and our manufacturer – hopefully, we can tack on that little extra speed that we’ve shown here lately.”

Have you put any thoughts or pitfalls of sports betting in NASCAR?

“There are certainly positives for the sport on it. If you look at most sports fans that watch any given game – it is usually because they have some sort of action on it. You only have only one home team, or favorite team that you root for. There is dozens other of games going on – and this is talking about other leagues – so when you are sitting at home and you are seeing what other game is on, it is most likely not your favorite team, so how are you going to have an invested interest in those other teams that you are watching? It is through sports betting. I think it contributed to the rise of other sports and could do the same thing for NASCAR as well.”

What would you like to see in the potential second season of the Netflix show cover?

“I think just really getting into the technical side of it – what you saw was the drivers and their personalities and whatnot, but you didn’t see is what makes those cars go around in circles and what makes this driver better than the other and what makes this car better than the other. I think those are important stories to tell, because at a basic level, I think they hit all of the marks really well, but it is getting maybe more technical into why this team or why this driver might be better than others. I would like to see that.”

Have you given NASCAR any suggestions on the next year’s schedule?

“They don’t ask us any of that stuff. They just come out with the schedule.”

Is there a place you would like to go?

“Not off hand. I haven’t really thought of it first hand, but certainly, more ovals.”

Does Martinsville victories mean anymore to you knowing the emphasis Hendrick Motorsports puts into it?

“It doesn’t. It obviously means a lot to them for important reasons, but if you are able to beat them – which doesn’t happen often at that track – you’ve got everything going. You’ve got to have the pit crew because you have to qualify well. All of those things really matter. The short track at Martinsville is just a beast on its own. I can’t corollate it to any other short track. We don’t heavily brake at any other short track that I can think of. Tight corners. It is just very different than the flowy Richmond type short track. They’ve just been good there forever, even before I was in the Cup Series. Jeff Gordon – those guys were dominating it, then Jimmie Johnson, he took over and started dominating it. It’s just a track they’ve got figured out. Maybe it was a track they tested at, way back in the day, because you used to be able to test just anytime you wanted to, and maybe it was a track they spent a lot of emphasis on, but certainly – emotions are probably always high going into a Martinsville weekend and that just adds a little of pressure to the drivers to know that they’ve got to step up.”

You are racing in your hometown this weekend. What does that mean to you?

“I love it. This is a track always where we are starting to get into the swing of the tracks where we are going to be contenders every week. This kind of kicks off that part of the schedule. I think we all kind of know where we are at now. We are six races in. We know what our strengths are. We know what our weaknesses are, and now we just have to capitalize when we go to tracks like this that we are always contenders. It is going to be an execution game. It is not going to be a speed game. We will have that. It is making sure we execute. With the pit crew I have this year, they’ve been on it. I feel like our speed has been as good as it’s ever been. We are running inside the top-five more than we ever have, even though we have not finished there quite yet. I feel pretty good about it. I’m anxiously waiting for the next hour.”

How does having a win already change your approach?

“It doesn’t really change my approach. I think if I were kind of a notorious bubble guy, that is always on the bubble, then it would certainly give me some relief, but with team like this should never be on the bubble any year. I don’t treat it any different other than we certain bonus point goals throughout the season. For us, we would like to at 14 points in the next three races. We’ve got six right now, so we’ve got to get on it.”

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