DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your feelings about the Chase Elliott situation coming back for the first time since October?
“I think I kind of touched on it really right after the race with the tweet I sent out. It was a mistake on my part and I moved on from it – we both have. We’ve raced each quite a bit during the course of this year and been fine.”
Do you have bad memories of that incident overall?
“The only bad memories are really it just kind of unraveled our chance to make the final four to be honest with you. That part of it is frustrating, but it was so long ago that my focus had already shifted to this season and I can’t go back so I’ve got to go forward now.”
Were you surprised by the fan reaction?
“Those type of incidents have happened for a long time in the course of NASCAR history by a lot of different people and I think it really had a lot to do with the people in play. Maybe if the shoe was on the other foot, there would have been cheers. It’s part of short track racing and it obviously gets used a lot for promos. Thank goodness this isn’t Texas Motor Speedway or we’d have a boxing ring or something sitting outside. It’s part of short track racing and it has been for many, many years. It was just bad to be a part of it on that particular night.”
Are you frustrated by your pit road speeding penalties and what can you do to improve them moving forward?
“I’m very conscious and very frustrated. Just learn from them and it is a constant learning thing. I’ve had a little bit of everything penalty-wise this year on pit road. It’s really hurt us in stages more so than it has our finishing position. We’ve obviously rebounded and finished in the top-six all but one race and the one race we didn’t, we ended up going two laps down because of that speeding penalty because it was under green, which is a quadruple penalty. I just have to learn and I’m definitely not pushing it as hard as I was on pit road. We’ve had two separate incidents of me getting too close to the left side wall by sliding the tires. I think it’s just early season gremlins I’m having getting back acclimated to pit road and getting the brake settings for each track back out. Usually it’s mistakes on the track that I’m making early in the season, not on pit road so I feel like I can fix those a little bit easier.”
Do you have Easter plans with the girls?
“It’s going to come on a good weekend. There’s a lot of fun stuff that we get to do and obviously getting to spend some time out west with (Ricky) Stenhouse and the Larson’s – that was a lot of fun to spend those two weeks out there. I’d like to do something like that again, I don’t really have any plans just yet, but definitely enjoy the time at home that we have because there are so few and far in between that we have in our season. I don’t have anything yet, but I’m sure I will be with them in some way.”
How will you approach Texas Motor Speedway in two weeks?
“It’s definitely a different race track than what it used to be for sure when they repaved it. It’s such a fast race track and we had a good run there in the Playoff race there last year. We had a really bad race there in the spring of last year so I feel like we really made gains on it and hopefully we’re just as competitive this time around as we were last season. I like the track better the old way, but you had to do something because they had so many weepers and stuff whenever it rained. It’s really turned into a one lane race track right now and it will be for a while until something different happens. It’s a challenge to race on for sure and definitely one of the fastest and one of the narrowest tracks that we race on, even though in feet it’s one of the widest.”