Toyota Racing – Denny Hamlin
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Sept. 22, 2017
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin was made available to the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What’s it like to be back at New Hampshire Motor Speedway pursuing yet another lobster?
“Yeah, it’s obviously a great race track for us and we’ve performed really well here. I didn’t think we had the best car here earlier this year, but we found a way to win and that was really important. Hopefully, we have a little bit better car, give ourselves a better chance to win, because we can’t always count on our competitors to make mistakes and that’s kind of what happened this time around, so we’ll try to get the best car possible and see if we can’t capitalize.”
What do you think makes you so successful here at New Hampshire?
“Well, I think that it just drives like a short track. Really this is a one-mile short track – it’s flat and that’s typically where we have excelled throughout my career. That’s probably why, but we still need to get better. I thought over the last few races here, we haven’t been a top-three car. We’ve been a top-five, but not a top-three and I’ve got some notes that I’ll try to improve on this time around.”
Is this a place that Joe Gibbs Racing really focuses on as an organization?
“No more than any other racetrack really. You know, I think that we’ve – yeah, we do have a package that works well at this race track. It’s been passed on through all the drivers. There’s a lot of data sharing. There’s really not many driver advantages anymore. That just kind of gets passed down and the speed is infectious.”
Can you tell the lobster story about why you’ve been freaked out about lobsters ever since?
“Tell a lobster story?”
What started your hatred towards crustaceans?
“Yeah, I’ve never really liked them to begin with. I don’t like the taste of them. I don’t – I just don’t like looking at them. They have pincers really, so I don’t like anything that’s ugly and has pincers. I don’t know – it’s just a big scorpion in my mind. I try to stay away from them and yeah, I’ve had some interesting moments with them for sure that I don’t care to recall or bring back up.”
Did someone put one in your bed or your toilet or something?
“I’ve had one in my toilet before, yes. It was disturbing.”
Was that here?
“It was here, yep.”
On the motor coach?
How do you like the extra traction on the corners?
“Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely added a lot I think to the restarts. I think we were two and three wide on restarts here where typically this has been a one lane race track on restarts. I think it gives drivers options for sure. Just from the pictures and watching the race back, I thought it was very exciting – the racing aspect of it – and really it started to wear off as the day went on, so you had to move around and it was a constant battle to kind of find extra grip. It was a challenge, but it was a fun one.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued)
Do you still have room to maneuver and not lose it if you’re in the third lane?
“Yeah, for sure, and that’s the thing is you’re always chasing grip around this racetrack and so you always search for where it’s not worn off. It’ll change as the race goes – every 50, 60 laps, it’ll change where you need to be running.”
Are you comfortable with a 15 point penalty and a one race crew chief suspension for the 24 team?
“You know, I don’t know a whole lot about it. All I know is they had a great points day. Really, I think they just took a few stage points away for the most part. From my standpoint, it looks like it’s a misdemeanor. NASCAR didn’t deem that a very big penalty, so there must not have been any intent there. I guess it was all an accident.”