DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Sport Clips Haircuts Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
How much could the sturdiness of these cars play into how aggressive the racing could be tomorrow night?
“I think it probably will lend itself to guys being more aggressive with each other side to side probably could be the outside lane not giving as much room to the outside lane. And suddenly maybe not as worried about tire rubs or whatnot. So certainly, it could change little things here and there. And that's something that I'm sure you'll see, casual fan will see, but certainly inside baseball.”
As a team owner, how do you feel about the appeal and the way things were handled? Are things good in the sense that if you do things right, you’ll be good?
“We think we know what we don't exactly know for sure. But yeah, there should be a level of transparency there. We know, generally speaking if you go by the rules that NASCAR is giving us, we'll be in good shape. Now, they have opened up some areas here and there because supply and driver comfort stuff, things like that. So, it's not it's not completely just open together. It's not like maybe intended, but the big things it is so it was a big thing and it would be hard to convince them that you’re not trying to get an advantage.”
Why are you guys so good here at Martinsville as an organization?
“I mean, personally speaking, I think I have two of the best short track teammates out there. Short of that, I'm not sure it's not like our setups from the previous generation cars were a big thing. Richmond just a decade ago just really took a swing and there was only one or two guys that would run well at Richmond, but just seems like Kyle and I learned a ton off of each other. And same thing that kids have came over and started winning short tracks. Well, these guys are good. They're just drivers always going to be your biggest X-Factor on where you finish at tracks like Richmond. Aerodynamics aren't as big of a deal. Setups are, but your driver’s just as important.”:
What is it like to be a part of the history with the 75th anniversary of Martinsville Speedway?
“I mean, it's special for sure. I wasn’t able to win the late model big late model race here for the years that I tried. Came close a few times, but was just a track that, you know, I actually have a few laps that before getting into a Cup car here. So it was the only track that I felt somewhat comfortable with before I got into the Cup Series, and so it's just you know, this is kind of the essence of the short tracks in which we grew up with the asphalt late model guys. This is what we grew up doing is this type of racing, and it's rolling around the corner and then back in the gas. That's, our style of racing. We certainly have a good feeling when it comes to these types of tracks that we've been racing for decades.”
How will you tackle the race this weekend with the new race car? Is it relying on previous notes or a whole new challenge?
“A little bit of both. But yeah, I suspect that we can still take our same techniques and be pretty good here. But we will have to change some things. I know that there's little things that people don’t know like tires. Tires is the biggest thing that contributes to the racing that we have today we used to have a set of tires that if you get 15 or 20 laps on them, and they just blow off and when I say blow off, like there's no grip in them. So you had to really modulate and then we've gone through a transition where the last few years it's just been added or relaxed or as hard as you can there's no reward or saving or anything like that. It's not worth it. What you would gain is not worth what you would get back from it so it is different, but you'll still see the guys that have found ways to win here I think find ways to win again.”
Do you have a good idea of how much this tire might fall off?
I mean, that's what I'm talking about. When we look at all races here and the track is black and looks like asphalt. It’s just that rubber that sticks to the concrete. Now today's tires don't really do that, doesn't clump up like we used to just stick to the race track. The moment of caution comes out, it all comes right back. We see it at Dover every time we go to track, the black. You see this high speed cameras and then cautions and and then its just like a power wash. So it's just so different than what it used to be. We had to change your style of driving for that and took the time away here and it's just nice that the track was really green. I really don't know how much they learned you know.
Do you believe that over time, things will come full circle and you can win the races that you’ve lost?
“I'm definitely a believer and odds are certainly. I think that if you flip a coin 10 times, it's going to be heads or tails. It could be at 20 flipping 1000. And it's not going to vary more than 55%. So it's, it's just more time to do it. So yes, to answer your question. I do subscribe to that theory that if you do it long enough, the odds will go to your favor. I'm subscribing to that every time I make it to the final four.”
Have you lost more than you could ever get back?
“I've had so many weeks and we keep track of all this stuff within our team, but you know, it's been the last, I don't know, the last year since I've been working with (Chris) Gabehart (crew chief). We keep track of like, what are we capable of doing? Honestly, people who are winning 3% of the races completed huge numbers, but there's so many X factors that you can't control that take out 10%. Drivre makes a mistake, take out another 5%. You know, it's just makes it so tough to win in the sport. We're in a losing business for reasons. Us versus 35 others and a lot of times there's factors that you can't control that sometimes keep you from running and then sometimes things work out great.”
How frustrating is it to go through a cycle where you have as many DNFs so far this season as you’ve had in the previous two years?
“Yeah, I mean, I'm not sure that I've had one last five or six races like that where it was just atrocious finishes. But I probably have, I mean, I've been doing this forever, but it just it didn't worry me as much as it probably should have. Just because I knew that we would figure it out. Our teams good enough that we're going to get over any kind of hole that we're in. It's just a matter of time. It's been a long time since we just had to search for speed and not figured out why we can't win. That's been years and years and years ago. Really 2018 is the year where it's like it's not that I couldn't figure it out, but we just couldn't get to victory lane. Since then, it's like the answers are right there in front of us is just going to work on.
Do the DNFs bother you this season?
“I knew before the season started that we're going to have more cautious and more crashes. There's going to be a more attrition. We’ve had five different point leaders or something, because it's hard for anyone to string together any kind of consistency right now. Because there's more mechanical layers that's in play, or restarts. Things have more opportunities for your day to get derailed. So that's why we see everyone just there's finishes bouncing all over the place. I think it will start to get levelled out. Probably be the end of the year when we feel good about every part of the car is super reliable, failing things we've understood what works with it, how we need to restart. All those things, it's going to get better with time.”
Do you have an idea of how these cars will drive on the superspeedway at Talladega?
Yeah, it was unfortunate because we drove right to the front there and ended up getting crashed, but it was I really wanted an opportunity because I tested there and I was really happy with the knowledge that I've gotten before the 500. I thought I had an advantage over the field because I had so much time with it for the 500. Except I didn’t get to show it, but I'm confident we got to a good place. Yes. I was a little worried after the test. That we were going to have this style type of racing, is that right or wrong? But in the end, I think that we showed that with some time testing, put on a good show, and it probably will.”
What would it mean to capture the 200th win for Joe Gibbs Racing?
“It would be special for sure. Big wins like that seem to be celebrated more for sure. It’s good. It's good for your confidence I'd say. That's pretty much the gist of it. Certainly remember the 100 came in Loudon (NH) or something like that.
Can you race differently after getting the win at Richmond?
Yes, is the answer. We were probably a week or two before that, we just needed to race a solid day like we all we all want to win. Like it's going stop the bleeding, a little bit. So certainly now stopped the bleeding on that side. Sure. I feel a little bit more confident in being aggressive in this race and because of the way last week went because I was worried about making the Playoffs or not just simply because eventually we can’t just keep having bad finishes. It's tough on team. It's tough for them to keep them excited about what we're doing here. So I think now certainly I don’t have that voice in my head saying to be careful.”
You don’t show pressure a lot, but do you feel the pressure?
Sure. Yeah, that's fair. You know, it's we went all last regular season, even though it's really, really strong, not winning into the playoffs. The first two rounds we did. Again, just want to keep that momentum of winning half because you know, the last three years we've won a lot, so don't like to have that all in wins because you start to second guessing and start searching around to find out why.”