DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How do you feel about your chances tomorrow with Toyota’s success in the Coca-Cola 600 over the past few years?
“It should be pretty good. I felt pretty good with our practice there. It was one of our better practices of the year. We’re going to have to start from deep in the field, which is going to be a challenge with traffic, but we’ve got a long race to get it done. Pretty happy with where we’re at.”
With this being the last Happy Hour over the next few weeks now that you’re qualifying in between the Xfinity Series qualifying session and Xfinity Series race, will how your team approaches the weekend change?
“It’ll change it for the crew chiefs. More than anything it’ll change things for them. For us, we’re either in qualifying mode or race-trim mode and once we’re in that, we’re doing the best we can – the conditions don’t get any different than what we’re running here right now to what we’re going to be ending the race in in the 600. If we can adapt to that, we can adapt to any schedule.”
When you have the car impounded following single-car qualifying, do you give up on qualifying trim and focus on race trim?
“Yeah, absolutely. We don’t do anything – with impound races, we’re going to do everything we can to make our race cars as fast as we can. That’s going to pay a price for qualifying certainly. It will be the same for everyone though, so you’re going to try to do your best to have that balance of a car that can have low drag, but a lot of downforce and that’s going to be the key.”
Has there been an adjustment going to single-car qualifying after group qualifying for several years?
“Not really. I was part of both during the course of my career, so it’s been a really easy transition. Not much to it.”
What do you think about the prospect of a potential NASCAR/IndyCar doubleheader ?
“I think it’d be great. I mean I think that sometimes our fans are not the same and so it would be an opportunity to introduce each other. I’ve never been to an IndyCar race before, so it would be an opportunity for me to kind of see it up close and personal and I wouldn’t mind wandering around the garages and seeing how they do things.”
What’s stood out to you about your Toyota teammate Christopher Bell in the Xfinity Series?
“Just his ability to adapt to different cars is the biggest thing that I’ve noticed. When I got to race with him in Xfinity two years ago in his debut here at Charlotte, I thought he did a great job of getting better throughout the race. Obviously he’s winning races over there with that program and qualifying on a lot of poles, things like that. He’s got raw speed and it looks like he’s gotten better and better I think over the last year managing races and getting there at the end and then winning. Even when he doesn’t have the best car, which I thought at Dover he didn’t have the best car, but he was able to win because he’s smart and took his time.”
Is Christopher Bell ready for the Cup Series?
“Yeah, absolutely. I think any person that’s accomplishing what he is at this level – we’ve seen even with like Chase Elliott spending that extra time in Xfinity, it really does pay off and so I don’t think that it’s a wasted year by any means. I think he would probably tell you at the end of this year that he’s probably glad he had one more year in Xfinity to learn a little bit more because when he gets to Cup, you want to be ready to be a contender right away.”
Toyota Racing PR