THE MODERATOR: We are going to continue on with our post-race media availability. We're joined by co-owner of 23XI racing Denny Hamlin. Congratulations on another win for your organization here at this racetrack. Walk through that from your perspective, please.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, the 45 team certainly showed up with some good speed this weekend. Both cars did. They stayed up front just like they did at Darlington.
Really happy with the performance they've been putting forth here in the first couple races, and now to lock themselves in and move on is great. They get to go to Bristol and work a strategy that's best for them to win the race and don't have to worry about stage points.
That's advantageous to get another win.
Really good for them, and certainly happy about them putting the whole race together and capitalizing on that late-race restart.
- Denny, the last three or four races that 45 car has found Victory Lane here at Kansas. What does it mean to have that dominance as an owner at this track?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I think myself and that team work really, really close together. Typically when we run well, that team runs well, and we're learning as much from them as they're learning from us.
I think that it's a great partnership, and it's certainly really valuable to have talented guys behind the wheel, fast cars, and for everyone at Toyota, it's good to have multiple bullets in the gun when you're in a late-race restart situation where you had one car dominating and then next thing you know you're starting fifth and sixth. You've at least got a couple chances there to get the win.
- Having the lead before the caution, as a driver is there any frustration with that? Is there a little redemption that your car ended up in Victory Lane tonight?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, certainly it stinks. It certainly flipped the results from first to second.
But that's part of racing, right; our sport is different than others. It is a sport of chance at times, and luck does play a factor, and we were unlucky to get that caution.
We knew that there was going to be a handful of cars that was going to do the opposite of what we did. I think the right call was four tires.
But the 45 just did a great job of executing.
They executed the restart really, really well. It makes me happy that if it wasn't us, it was them. It's a decent day.
- Denny, I know you've talked about wanting Tyler to become a more complete driver in terms of closing out races because he starts off the race strong, qualifies really well. Starting the Playoffs he's got a second at Darlington, had a chance to win that race, gets the win today. In what ways have you seen him improve in terms of closing out races?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, Tyler is a sponge. He really is. It's easy to be cocky at times and just know that you've got speed and you've got what it takes to be a champion and a lot of race winner, which he will be. But he is a sponge that's always willing to learn.
Even in Victory Lane he's asking me, what were you doing the final run, how is this -- he's wanting to know more, which is really, really good.
I knew his weakness was race management. It was getting to the finish, with the finishes you deserve.
The last part of the race where we were just kind of cruising at that point, they mentioned to me the 45 is at the fence, he's getting all he can get, just to kind of keep up. At that point I keyed on and said, remind him don't be the caution. Let's just keep this thing status quo. I need to go, I'm going to pull away, but that was one of those things where he started -- then he came off the wall and started managing his risk knowing he wasn't going to run us down. At that point, take the really good day. That's what you have to do.
Now he put himself in contention when the caution does fall to make a strategy call or make a bold restart to put himself in the spot to win.
Those are the things that I think he's made big strides in this year. For the most part, I think that -- a lot of the times he didn't finish where he should it's been on the team, not as much on him.
I think days like today certainly builds his confidence that you're never out of it, not until you cross the line.
- Obviously even though you're not fully locked into the next round, you have built up a large amount of points. How do you approach Bristol knowing the wackiness that we saw last year?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I think we're going to be far enough head, we're just going to race it like we are advancing. We're going to race to win the race. We're going to try to do whatever we can to flip stages and not care about stage points to go out there and give us the best opportunity to win, similar to the 5 and the 45.
I think that's a track that certainly there's a lot of opportunities for teams that are desperate for points to play that game for stages, but then they're going to get flipped for the end of the race, and so it makes it easier for us and our strategy going forward to just focus on what do we have to do to win.
THE MODERATOR: Denny, congratulations on the triumph and good luck next week at Bristol.