An Interview with: Denny Hamlin & Joey Logano
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Denny Hamlin, our second-place finisher.
We’ll get right into questions.
You had a pretty dominant car all race. Tell me kind of how the last 13 laps transpired for you.
DENNY HAMLIN: We just didn’t take off very good there. Definitely was worse when our car took off after restart. The 48 had his tires pumped up, he was able to take off there, get the lead, build a lead big enough I didn’t have enough time to get back to him.
Seeing fans back here had to be a nice change from last September.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, definitely. Glad that some fans were able to come back. I knew Richmond put some good equity in this racetrack to help make it a great fan experience. Hopefully we’ll have them back in the infield here soon.
Were you glad to see that caution or did you think you had Logano there if it had gone green?
DENNY HAMLIN: We were in good position. I mean, it was 20 to go or so, we were obviously faster. Trying to be patient there. But, yeah, who knows. I mean, who knows at this point. I felt like I was in pretty good position. I thought we were a little better during that time.
You said last week you felt you’re finishing where your car was, where you felt like you should be. Do you feel that way today or do you feel this is one you should have won?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, we should have won. Certainly the 48 wasn’t better than us all day. Just got to lead the last lap. You’ve got to figure out how to lead the last lap, that’s pretty much all that matters.
Today, I don’t know if we had a dominant car. It was definitely top two. There were times the 19 was better. Times the 22 was better that one round. But certainly top tier.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by our third-place finisher, Joey Logano.
We’ll continue with questions for both Joey and Denny.
Denny, obviously I hear you saying you’re still running well, having chances. At what point does it start to wear on you that you’re dominating the series pretty much and the wins just haven’t come yet?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, it’s frustrating for sure. I’d rather be where I am than Alex Bowman. I don’t care that he’s got a win. We’re smashing everyone. I’d still rather be where I’m at.
Denny, it’s certainly soon after this event. You scored a lot of points, get stage wins. Can you walk away feeling good or is it ultimately going to be walking away frustrated and upset that there isn’t the win?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, there’s frustration, for sure. But it doesn’t change my attitude or work ethic. I’m going to work just as hard to win next week and the week after that. You’re a competitor, you want to win. Especially when you have a great opportunity to win.
It just didn’t happen. I just got to digest it, look at it and see where we could have been a little bit better. But ultimately there’s nothing I can do. My effort was as high as it could be. There’s nothing that’s glaring that I feel like I could have or should have done different.
Maybe there is. I’ll go back and look at it, figure it out. Just seemed like the 48 had it gripped up there for a couple laps.
Joey, you’ve heard Denny’s frustration. How do you walk away from this?
JOEY LOGANO: I thought we were going to be a battle between the front row, especially the way we launched on the final restart there. Just could barely hang on to the 11’s quarter down into one. I thought maybe I can roll the top here. Got there, the front just wasn’t woken up yet. Wasn’t turning for about three laps.
Obviously the 48 was in a different league for about five laps. Pretty obvious adjustments they made to make that happen. He was decent all day, but he wasn’t the fastest car. They found a way to win. Congratulations to them. They deserve it.
But probably frustrating at the same time for probably two of the best cars getting beat by that at the end. You get frustrated being so close, but at the same time at least you’re close, so you kind of go back and forth with that in your mind.
Solid run for us. No win. Had fun racing Denny there for a while. It was a good battle there for the lead back and forth throughout those long runs. Unfortunately none of it was for the win.
Denny, what about your crew? They gave you a good run all day. About the only time you didn’t come out first was you parked awkwardly in the pit box.
DENNY HAMLIN: They did a great job. You’re just hoping that last stop is clean. You’re trying to do everything you can as a driver, pushing all the lights that you possibly can to make sure you don’t leave one inch of room there just in case it gets close off pit road, and it was.
Yeah, they did a great job. Obviously gave us a great shot there. I think we start on the front row on the outside, probably wouldn’t have had a shot there. So they did great.
Denny, it seems like you don’t really have a monkey on your back to get this win, considering you guys are dominating, like you said. You’ve led over half of the last two races, 483 of the last 900 laps in the Cup Series. Overall where would you say you are as a team right now in terms of needing to get to Victory Lane to rack up Playoff points?
DENNY HAMLIN: We don’t know if we need it until the Playoffs. If we had this performance, we’ll just go right to Phoenix and we’ll be fine. But you can’t plan on that. You could have a bad race, anything can happen. You don’t know what you need until you need it.
We’re trying to do the best we can, get all the points we can. Ultimately all we can control is our effort week-to-week.
Joey, they made several comments on television that they seemed to think you had mostly a car that was good on short runs. Towards late in the race, it seemed like you were able to keep pace much better in contending for the lead. Did your car simply get better later in the race?
JOEY LOGANO: I’ve never seen a mask like that in my life (laughter). That’s awesome.
To answer your question, yeah, I mean, we adjusted on it. I’d say early in the race we were probably, I don’t know, I felt like we weren’t really that great on the short runs early in the race either. I felt like we were just kind of a third placer there the first couple stages, whether it was short or long run. It’s just the way we were.
Made some adjustments to try to get better on the long haul. Feel like we did. I think the track changed a little bit too. There was one run I think Denny was tight. The next run we got tight, he caught right back up to us. I think we were both kind of chasing the track on different adjustments, trying to catch up.
I think the track went for a swing as much as anything. I think the 48 kind of snookered everybody. That last run was some of his adjustments.
Denny, when you have a run like this, eight top fives in nine races, does this give you and your team more momentum, more frustration?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I think I’ve talked about it. It’s a double-edged sword. You’re upset in the moment. You feel like you should capitalize when you have great cars. But in the big picture, we are running very strong and in contention each week.
It’s mixed emotions.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll let Denny go. Congratulations on a great finish. We’ll see you next week.
DENNY HAMLIN: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Joey, we’ll take a couple more questions for you.
Were you surprised that Bowman was able to make that move? Was he strong enough during the race that you thought he could be a factor?
JOEY LOGANO: I mean, yeah, I think we’re all surprised. Anything can happen on a late race restart on a short track. As Denny says, it’s short-track racing, right?
I think that’s probably what it kind of came down to. They made great adjustments to make their car fire off better. What we saw was him being lights out for five, six laps. Then it equaled out. The last maybe four, five laps, Denny and I were able to catch him a little bit back. As it kept going, he was going to start paying the penalty. I’m just assuming he pumped up his pressure. I’m not sure how much. But seemed like the obvious to me.
Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s the strategy of the play, right? If he didn’t get to the lead in the first two or three laps, he was done, right? He was going to probably finish fifth or sixth. That’s the gamble they took. He took advantage of it, got by everybody pretty quick. Kind of made us all look kind of goofy there for a minute.
I want to replay it, do it again. We would do something different, I could tell you that much.
Speaking of replays, going into Talladega, do you dread this week of all the talk of who do you work with, who do you not work with? Do you still look forward to it in the nature of that type of racing?
JOEY LOGANO: Well, I love superspeedway racing. I feel like I’m really good at it. I feel like T.J. is really good at it. We bring pretty good cars to the racetrack, as well. For those reasons, I feel like we’re always a threat to win. We’re always up there. We always have a shot.
That being said, we’ve been crashing a lot too (laughter). That’s part of it, I guess.
As far as who you work with, when you work with them, what you’re supposed to do, I just pray for clarity. That’s all I want. Just tell me what I can do and what I can’t do, how to work together the best way possible when the gloves drop and when we go for it.
Honestly, that has nothing to do with the 100% rule. That is how we win, right? I don’t think I can go out there and win by myself without having allies on the racetrack. I think probably most everyone can agree with that that’s out there. So you have to have some kind of plan of how do you pit together, how do you work the draft together, what’s okay and what’s not okay, and when does that end and does it end.
I don’t know. I think this week will be important to get some clarity to those questions.Chris Gabehart said to Hamlin that your brake rotors were glowing red. Were you having any brake issues at all? Was he just trying to assuage his driver?
JOEY LOGANO: I don’t know, from what I hear he tries to assuage his driver a lot here lately. I don’t know. I think he’s just trying to pump his driver up. I’m sure that’s what it is (laughter).
Joey, how valuable is it to have a date with Richmond to work with prior to the Playoff event in September, much like we did not have last season?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I mean, Richmond seems to be one of those racetracks where it’s the same cast of characters every time you come here because it’s a very challenging racetrack. This racetrack, a good car isn’t enough. A good driver isn’t enough. It all has to come together at the same time. That’s why you see Richmond, Martinsville, sometimes Bristol is like this too, where especially 750 tracks probably more than anything. It’s usually the same cast of characters.
Here it’s Denny, Martin, Brad, and myself, Kyle will sneak in there a few times too. I might be leaving one or two out. I don’t want to be rude. Those are usually the same cast of characters you always see up there.
Once you kind of get your head wrapped around it, understand how to race around this racetrack, it’s not as simple as it looks, right? It looks like a three-quarter mile racetrack. But there’s so many little things that takes a long time to figure it out.
I wasn’t good here to start, trust me. I wasn’t good at all. But I feel like lately we’ve had some really good runs, opportunities to win, couple wins in the bank, and really run up front in each one of them lately. Just needed a little more today.
I don’t know how much this will affect — having the spring race is almost like having the fall race event. It will probably be the same cast of characters up there. Might be some people a little bit more desperate, different situations that may call the race differently, trying to get stage points, things like that. That changes up the race quite a bit when you get to that type of thing.
You’ve had fans in the seats back at some of these races. Richmond, first time in a year and a half. You don’t notice that once you’re in the car on the track. How nice was it to see fans back here even though it wasn’t full capacity?
JOEY LOGANO: It’s great. It’s great. Bring some fans in and let’s go. We got to open the gates, man. I think this is a nice way to introduce that as we were able — from at least what I see, from inside the racetrack, everyone social distanced very well. You can see in the grandstands, there’s groups sitting next to each other that must come to the track together, I’m assuming. There’s space in between each one of them, as you guys saw plenty well.
Looked like a safe event to me. I think our race fans, NASCAR fans, love coming to the racetrack. Our events are something else when you come to the track, right? Watching it on TV is great. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching on TV. But being in person, hearing the car, seeing the speed, all of that, maybe throwing a radio on, listening to the in-car communications, that is what makes our sport, right? Every time you get someone to come to the racetrack for the first time, they’re always like, Wow, I didn’t expect all that. That’s because you got to get them here. We got to open the gates to get them here. I’m glad we’re starting to do that at a lot of different racetracks now. I love that.
We’ll keep being smart, taking the right precautions, but opening it up a little bit, get some people here.
THE MODERATOR: Joey, thank you so much for taking some time to talk with us. Congratulations on the great finish.
JOEY LOGANO: Thank you very much, guys. Have a good one.
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