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Toyota Racing – NCS Kansas Quotes – Denny Hamlin – 10.20.21

Toyota Racing – Denny Hamlin
NASCAR Cup Series Quotes

KANSAS CITY (October 20, 2021) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin was made available to media via videoconference prior to the Kansas race weekend today:

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

If a non-Playoff driver did what Ryan Blaney did last race, would that be against the driver code?

“I think we have seen in our sport that there is no code. Just depends on how you were brought up and kind of how your racing background is and stuff like that on whether that is acceptable or not. Certainly, I would have been more upset at (Ryan) Blaney at the time. Looking back on it, Ryan was three-wide in the middle and just steered right and cut our tire, but after the race I told him, ‘I get it, no big deal.’ I know it wasn’t malicious. It was a mistake, and you can ask him. I said, ‘It’s all good.’ I understand it for that reason – that we are all fighting for it and whatnot, but he is a car that we are battling. He is trying to get the spot just as much as I am from him. It’s hard racing amongst guys going for a championship.”

Do you expect non-Playoff drivers to give you a little more room because they are not competing for the championship with the favor returned next year?

“You expect the favors that you have be returned. It’s over with, but my frustrations are with if you take me out and I don’t wreck you immediately the next race or the next few, then like you owe me one. It’s just one of those things that I just don’t understand the mentality of some of these guys, but like I said in post-race media after Texas that I understand that everybody is racing for their own individual race. You can go through the whole list of quotes that I’ve got. Somebody asked me that question, and I gave plenty of quotes for it.”

Was there a period that you weren’t comfortable at Martinsville or when did you find the feel of the track?

“It started pretty early in my career. My rookie season was actually pretty rough at Martinsville. I remember getting into an incident and I cut a tire and backed into a wall, but I think it was probably just a time that I got lapped there. My story is very similar to – I forget who it was, whether it be Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart who said – that they got lapped, I think it was Jimmie, he got lapped early on in his career and he followed Jeff Gordon and just followed him and was like oh, well that is how you are supposed to do it. From that point on, you just kind of get it. I think that my situation was probably really similar to that.”

Shy of an outright win, what do you think the threshold for advancing?

“I think that if we can run in the top-five in the next four stages and if we can finish in the top-five the next two races then I think we will be okay. We will probably be fine. A lot of it honestly depends on your competition. I think we were very, very fortunate this past weekend with all the attrition with the competitors getting in trouble. All of that played a big factor into us kind of maintaining our position up towards the top. Feel very fortunate of that, but we have to assume, based on past results, that one of those guys at the bottom – whether it be Joey (Logano) or Martin (Truex Jr.) are going to go out and win these next two races, and if they do that, then that cut line moves right to me, and I’m actually plus one, not plus nine or eight or whatever it is. That’s the number that I’m racing to – is plus one to even right now.”

When do people start thinking about how do you beat the 5 team?

“Well, I think the 5 (Kyle Larson) has been very, very dominate on the mile-and-a-half racetracks and our championship is going to be decided on a mile racetrack, which is very, very different. Last year, we were very good on the mile-and-a-halves, and we were not that strong on short tracks, and we were beat before we got there. Our cars were just not fast enough. We knew that. This year, I think that we’ve flipped that a little bit where we are actually better on the 750’s than we are at the 550’s, even though we are still strong. That was by far our worst 550 race in probably a couple of years, just off of speed and what not that we had, and we were still sixth-to-seventh place. I think, while we know – I’m not putting their speed aside or ignoring it. I certainly just think we are going to a very, very different racetrack that is one in itself. We are going to decide a championship on this one racetrack. Hope your cars are fast and you’re good at that one type of racetrack because if you get to the final four what you did the first 35 races does not matter.”

Can you give me a sense of the restarts at Kansas?

“Kansas, we’ve actually seen as many big wrecks as we’ve seen anywhere, and a lot of them come on restarts, guys trying to push their lanes forward, guys going three-wide in a lane that closes and it causes a wreck, so there is just a lot of pushing that goes on, on restarts because you are trying to get your lane to move forward and advance and sometimes that pushing just gets a little too far. Kansas has been an attrition racetrack. It really has for whatever reason. You’ve got to treat it with respect and certainly on these restarts, you’ve got to manage your risks.”

Why did you engage Chase Briscoe on Instagram?

“A lot of it to me is the mentality that the younger guys have is they can’t pick up the phone and call you. They just make immature statements on social media, so I thought I would just go down to that level for a minute.”

Did that lead to any other conversations?

“No.”

Do you have any interest in Formula One?

“I think this year I’ve probably watched more races than I have my whole life, for sure. Some of that is driven by social media. My friends are tuning into it. You see that the American press is giving it more attention this year. Obviously when you see a buzz or see something on social media about it, you want to kind of tune in and see what’s going on. That’s kind of driven my interest in it, more so than anything.”

What are your thoughts when you are watching it?

“I’m interested by it, but it’s crazy because you know – you’ve got probably a 90 percent chance of picking which two guys are going to win. This year has been a little bit different with craziness going on, but there is two people that can win, two teams that can win. There is not much side-by-side racing, as compared to NASCAR, but yet fans and media love it. I think Kenny Wallace actually posted a very good question this week asking ‘What is it? What is people’s infatuation with it right now?’ because when you talk about how critical fans or media or whoever might be of our racing in NASCAR, it’s head and shoulders above anything going right now. The show is good. Why can’t we get people to turnout? Texas was just a big disappointment seeing what was up in the stands there, and yet we are talking about the biggest crowd in history showing up for COTA F1 race next week. So, there is some kind of disconnect that’s going on that’s not making this deal work, but I would love to see us have more of an F1-style approach to a race weekend and how we host hospitalities, parties, just all of those things. There’s just got to be more to it than us showing up and racing like we are doing right now.”

Have you watched Drive to Survive?

“Yeah, I have. When we started filming our deal with Bubba (Wallace) and 23XI, it certainly made me tune into that to see how they did the production on that and certainly it came across with some good storylines. Certainly, I’m a person that will turn into that series as it continues.”

Does it change your aggression level with Kyle Larson locked in?

“I think the entire field would’ve said that was a perfect case scenario for all other seven guys. If you ask them again this weekend, if they are not going to win for themselves, they are going to be rooting for the 5 (Kyle Larson) to win again. I think we understand in the position that I’m in, I’ve got to be smarter with the decisions that I make. I think the 22 (Joey Logano) and 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) with the hole that they are in, they are probably going to be more aggressive so we’ve got to be aware of that, but certainly, it was probably the best situation that could have happened this weekend was the car that was likely going to get in on points no matter what anyway win the race.”

Do you have any plans to expand to the Xfinity or Truck Series on the ownership side?

“No, that financial model does not make sense for us.”

Have you had a conversation with Bubba Wallace since Texas? He was very low after Texas, but the Talladega victory was a big high.

“I think that it’s part of our sport. It’s week-to-week. A lot of that comes with just time and experience on how can be settled within yourself to understand that it’s just one week and you move on. He’s racing to improve for the rest of the year. There really is not much for goals that we have other than work on being more competitive and continue to learn as a driver. I like his aggressiveness. I like that he was trying to be aggressive and get spots on a restart. Definitely am not going to fault him on that. I think that win is going to carry his confidence for quite a while, although that this is kind of just a little speed bump in the road for the confidence. It certainly could grow there at Kansas. He ran really good earlier in the year and had a good car. Run well, and I think that confidence will come right back. That’s our sport. It’s week-to-week. You’re only as good as your last race, so I’m sure he’s probably down in the dumps a little bit this week.”

About Toyota

Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in North America for more than 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands plus our 1,800 dealerships.

Toyota has created a tremendous value chain and directly employs more than 47,000 in North America. The company has contributed world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 40 million cars and trucks at our 14 manufacturing plants, 15 including our joint venture in Alabama that begins production in 2021.

Through its Start Your Impossible campaign, Toyota highlights the way it partners with community, civic, academic and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We believe that when people are free to move, anything is possible. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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