Sunday, Mar 26

Toyota Racing - NCS Phoenix Quotes - Denny Hamlin

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing

Does a day like today matter for moral?

“Honestly, we haven’t even talked about it as a team – about points or anything like that. I mentioned before the season started that I believe everyone’s average finish is going to go down three or four points in general. I think there will be more mechanical failures, more wrecks, things like that. More so, I think it’s going to be easier to come out of a hole versus previous years because as we have seen everyone has had trouble, where it seemed like we were so honed-in on the old car that my average finish just kept dropping every single year lower and lower. I think that you have a year where you can be 10 or 11, you are going to be up front – as long as you get reasonable stage points – you are going to be contending for a regular season championship. I’m not going to panic, simply because we have had some bad luck – obviously Daytona was not our doing, last week was our doing or my doing, I shouldn’t say we. I’m confident. I really am actually happy where our team is and where it is progressing week to week.”


How important is getting a good finish this weekend in Phoenix?

“This is an important race. Even though it’s early in the season, it’s the first real short track that we are going to. It’s going to create a big data point for us when we go to setup our cars for other racetracks, so it’s very, very important. A good solid day would help us believe and give us confidence that we are going to be good at all of the racetracks. I felt like in Vegas that we had one of the best – if not the best – cars, and that’s a mile-and-a-half and we’ve got a boatload of them. We’ve got a lot of short tracks and if we can be good here, I like our outlook for the whole year.”


Do you think about that this is the championship venue?

“We think about it, and I think about it for sure. I just make sure I do my part and give them the feedback they need to make the car better for when we come back.”


Did you make any changes after practice?

“No significant changes, but it is different. I didn’t feel comfortable at all in our practice. We are working on some seat stuff to make my back feel a little bit better. It was different. I didn’t test here, so I didn’t get a lot of opportunity to get a lot of laps, but we had some speed here – especially in the long run. My focus shifted to qualifying and I was like we have to be good in the short runs. That’s typically where you win races, and these races are coming down to last lap restarts and things like that. For us to qualify the way we did, that’s pretty encouraging. We’ve got something we can work with.”


What was some of the things you worked on in practice?

“A lot of it was just driving technique – trying to figure out where I need to run, what line I was going to run, how much grip the line had up there. Evidently, they sprayed resin all of the track, but the top lane feels the most sticky that it’s ever felt with any PJ1 or resin. It’s got an enormous amount of grip. I don’t know if that’s what we were aiming for, but the top line will be dominant. I was just trying to get my bearings and find my let off point was, where my breaking point was because you just don’t have that time to adapt to what you need out of your car until you drive it the right way and for 20 minutes, you’ve got to get it going. You typically – in these 20-minute sessions – are pushing it a little bit more, because you know you just don’t have time before the race to get honed in.”


What are your thoughts on the restarts with the dogleg with the new diffuser?

“We will probably wait to see other guys do it and see if they get damage from it. The one thing that is maybe good about it is we do have shock links that are limited so it’s not going to let your car go fully down there and crash the bottom, but we know we don’t want to damage anything underneath the car. We will proceed with caution to start with.”


How does the new car challenge you versus any other year?

“It’s more so a challenge, and you saw it last week with me shifting in the wrong direction. I’ve just been doing this for so long, that you just kind of get used to it. You hear the whine that you know you are in second gear, you’ve always since I’ve been 16, gone up and to the right. That’s challenging. I don’t know that I’ll be the last one, but I hated being the first one – but yeah, there is a lot of things that are so different within this car that are so different. I think so far, I can’t emphasis enough how far these cars have come since September or December when we tested at Charlotte. I was not optimistic by any means about the racing that we were going to see. I think so far, the races have been fantastic. We’ve seen great finishes, great battles within the field. Guys spinning out when they are stepping over the line, all great real racing that we grew up doing. Hopefully the fans like it, and I think it’s going to just keep getting better and better as time goes on. Very optimistic on what we’ve seen so far and the outlook for the car.”


Do you have any sense on how Atlanta is going to race and how they changed the wall angle?

“I think the wall angle was a concern for the drivers coming off of turn four and then kind of that kink. Certainly, if we are going to be racing in a tighter group, you don’t want to have any angles that are not safe. It’s good that they were able to make those changes to that. I think the biggest concern from what I hear from drivers is that even though it was just repaved, it’s got tremendous amount of bumps off of turn two that is not smooth, which you would think you would have with a new paved track. I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know if we are going to be drafting. I don’t think we are going to be tight pack racing. It’s not going to be Daytona or Talladega, but are they going to be grouped together, how are you going to build your car, all of those things are going to be a question mark and I have no clue what I’m getting into.”



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