NASCAR Media Conference
January 28, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We have Denny Hamlin, driver of the FedEx Toyota. On one quick note, Denny was the fastest car in the morning test session. Denny, just kind of talk about how the morning has gone. You set the pace this morning.
DENNY HAMLIN: Our Toyota was really good. It just took a little while to kind of get going there. So far, been pretty impressed with both everything from our side and really NASCAR's side, putting these cars on this racetrack. Seems to be going pretty well. Seems like every time we go to a big track with these things, I'm definitely more impressed with how they drive.
Really pretty happy with things right now.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Denny.
Q. (Question regarding driving the Toyota.)
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, we definitely didn't think going into this year that we were going to have growing pains by switching manufacturers. Had we had the old car where we really don't know the aero advantages, yeah, we definitely would have been a little bit more concerned.
But we know we've got basically the same body as what we had last year. All we're dealing with is different horsepower. Really there's going to be no transition for us, going hopefully to be as competitive if not more competitive in. The way it's looking, we're going to be more competitive than what we were last year.
Q. Is there anything about the Car of Tomorrow that has you longing for the old Cup cars as far as performance or speed? Anything about them that makes you wish you were still running the old cars?
DENNY HAMLIN: Not really. Other than, you know, it's going to be difficult to pass. It was getting to that point really with the old cars. It was becoming very difficult to pass. Really, you're going to have some of the same challenges with this car that you did with the previous car.
So I really -- there's really nothing. I think our speeds were getting a little bit too high with the old cars. These obviously have slowed down a little bit over that. I'm pretty pleased with everything that NASCAR has decided to do as far as safety, performance-wise with these cars. I'm very impressed with it.
Q. How are things going with your new teammate?
DENNY HAMLIN: It's been good so far. Definitely been able to use a lot of notes from the 18, a lot more than what the teams have in probably the last three or four years.
Really, it's good. Definitely seems like we already have a little bit more communication with Kyle than Tony, but he showed up late, so...
I don't know. I think it's going to be good. I think we really never have had a three-car united team at Joe Gibbs Racing. It's always been -- our cars have been spread out. We've kind of had one up front at times, one in the middle, one in the back. It kind of alternates which car that is.
Really I think this year is going to be the first time you see the three-car team of Joe Gibbs Racing.
Q. (Question regarding having Joe Gibbs more involved.)
DENNY HAMLIN: We really haven't seen any of the benefits yet, but everyone knows how the economy is right now. It's tough to get sponsorship. I think he's going to be a huge asset on that side of things for Joe Gibbs Racing, hopefully bringing new sponsors in. A lot of people like to be associated with Joe Gibbs the person. Hopefully that's able to kind of transfer over to our race team.
As far as the day-to-day operations, running it, I think it's going to stay the same with J.D. I think as far as the sponsors, you're going to have a little bit more of Joe involved in that.
Q. (Question regarding the tires.)
DENNY HAMLIN: Once again, huge strides. It seems like it's really gotten a lot better. Last year I remember when we came here you couldn't even hardly run two laps without about getting in a wreck. The tires were so hard, the surface was new, the speeds were up. It really made it out of control.
With these cars being a little bit slower, I think the tire compound might be a little bit softer and the track has aged. That's really been the biggest benefit so far. So really I think it's going to be a lot better racing than what you saw here the first time after the track got paved.
So really, you know, once again, happy on that side of things, that we can go out there and be more comfortable versus kind of being on edge all the time.
THE MODERATOR: Denny, thanks for coming in.
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