“Last week was all about just going through the motions and getting the process of making a comeback — getting that started. We executed that and now this week in Darlington it’s about completing all the laps and being there at the end to have a shot at the win. We know what we have to do if we want to make the Chase, and this week is the first step, first race in that comeback. I’m ready to get to Darlington in the No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota and compete for the win Saturday night.” Read more
Hamlin to Return at Talladega: Denny Hamlin will make his return to the #11 FedEx Express Toyota this weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Hamlin missed the last four Sprint Cup Series races while recovering from a back injury sustained in a last-lap incident at Auto Club (Calif.) Speedway on March 24. Exact plans for the FedEx Racing team at Talladega will be determined during the race weekend. Read more
How have you seen the Short Track Showdown grow over the last few years?
“The support for the race has been great. It’s an honor to have some of my peers commit to running in the Short Track Showdown, coming to Richmond early and helping a good cause. It’s also very rewarding to give back to the area that I grew up in and see guys that I used to compete with get the chance to race against some of NASCAR’s best at Richmond. I’m bummed that I can’t drive in the race this year, but it’s still an opportunity to raise awareness for a bunch of great charities and put on a great race for the fans.” Read more
What was it like to have Denny next to you during practices rather than in the car?
“It’s entertaining — he (Hamlin) said that he learned more in the one hour of watching practice than he typically learns in three or four months of practice himself. Just being able to watch other drivers and scan radios and those things. He says he learned a lot more about what he can pick up and help us on feedback. I hope it’s going to be a positive move for us in the long run.”
How will the learning curve of the new car be impacted with Denny in the car at test events?
“I think it gives us a little more broad perspective on everything we’re doing and the importance of every little detail. With Denny (Hamlin) being out of the car and sitting back and watching some of those things and we will go to Texas and we have the test day there — it’s nice for him to see what we do to prep every week and what we’re doing now. He’s more active in that so it makes him appreciate more of what we do and the time we spend on it. We get even closer feedback on his opinions and stuff — he realizes how important it is now because all we can see is what we can physically see on the track with the car going around. We can’t tell a lot about the handling usually with that. We see general trends, but that’s it. The detail feedback and scans of other drivers and listening to the way Mark (Martin) and Brian (Vickers) are describing cars is going to be a big eye-opening thing for him.”