Charlotte, NC – The Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour’s second stop was Joe Gibbs Racing. There are lots of changes at JGR, most notably the addition of Carl Edwards in the No. 19 Toyota, but it was Denny Hamlin who spoke first.
Hamlin was a notable participant with other drivers in what became a feud with Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski in 2014. Hamlin now says that he has moved on from 2014, and feels like he and Keselowski are in a good place for 2015.
“I think as drivers, we’re becoming a tighter-knit group,” Hamlin said. “I think really, it doesn’t take long for stuff like that to kind of wash itself under the bridge. I think that any incidents with myself, or Kevin, or Jeff or anyone who may have had an issue with Brad, it’s in the past and you’ve got to move on.
“It’s hard to hold grudges because they take up so much effort to keep them going. As drivers, you just don’t have time.”
Hamlin, who chased Keselowski through the garage area after a racing incident at Charlotte on the final restart, says the intensity of the final 10 races led to that incident, something that maybe drivers are going to handle better the second time around.
“Jeff (Gordon), he probably knew that was a great opportunity for him to win a championship before he retires, that probably ramped up his intensity,” Hamlin said. “For those other moments, we’re all trying to make it to the next round. If you feel like someone causes you to miss it, you are really, really angry. It’s part of racing.”
Kyle Busch had to answer questions about his brother, Kurt Busch and domestic violence. Busch said Monday that he has steered clear of involving himself in older brother Kurt’s recent legal issues, even though reporting mistakes have confused the two. Busch said he had not spoken to his older brother about the alleged incident.
“Haven’t spoken to him,” Busch said. “Don’t know nothing and I’m trying to stay away from it all and let him handle his business.”
Carl Edwards, the star of the show, was his usual optimistic self. Edwards is probably looking at the success of his former and current teammate, Matt Kenseth, for inspiration. During his first season after leaving Roush Fenway Racing, Kenseth won seven races and Edwards is hoping for the same in 2015, and not looking back.
“This year’s a little bit different,” Edwards said Monday during the Charlotte Motor Speedway NASCAR Media Tour. “It reminds me of my first year full time in the Cup Series. I feel like I’ve really got to prove myself. I feel a little anxious; a little nervous about it. It’s nice. I haven’t had that feeling for a long time and it’s a motivator. I’m as focused as I’ve ever been and I’m excited as I’ve ever been. This is a neat opportunity for me.
“I’m just excited to get to learn from these guys and get to race under the JGR banner for Toyota. We had a great test at Charlotte and I’m really ready to go. I’ve been wearing my driver’s suit a lot.”
Kenseth went from riches to rags in 2014 by not winning a single race in his second season at JGR.
“It’s probably a little bit different of a situation because it’s starting a whole new team for Carl, but he’s a guy who’s been in one place for a while and is making a jump,” Kenseth said. “That’s never easy to do, to leave some place where you’re comfortable and you understand how it works and you’ve won some races. I know what it feels like.”
Time will tell, but Edwards is confident and with Darian Grubb as his Crew Chief, success should come to the kid from Missouri who handed out business cards early in his career while trying to find a ride.