[MUSIC PLAYING] – I just think Hamlin– he is so good.
– Denny Hamlin is not waiting around.
– Hamlin is going to be a real major factor in this race.
– Mr. Consistency.
– And there goes Denny Hamlin back to the lead.
JEFF GORDON: Welcome.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for having me.
JEFF GORDON: See ya. You bet. I don’t know. How are things? How is life? How’s the season?
DENNY HAMLIN: You know, the season is going way better than the results show. That’s for sure. I mean, I think we know that I’ve made my share of mistakes and things like that. But you know, really, to start the season on speed, I think this is the fastest start of a season in my career for sure.
– Too fast entering.
– So many pit road violations.
– Serving a one-lap penalty.
JEFF GORDON: You brought up mistakes. I didn’t bring it up. Why so many speeding penalties?
DENNY HAMLIN: I’m trying to get every little bit I can. And really, I’m not fighting for, you know, 49.9. I’m fighting for the other grey areas on pit road, and that’s where it’s biting me. But there’s been some where, you know, it’s been speeding. Other ones, it’s just been, you know, tire penalties and things that we’ve had that have been team-induced. But Texas, for instance, I mean, I lost us 50 points there. There is no question in my mind between speeding under Green, putting us in the back of the pack, we get in a wreck.
– Oh man!
– One car around and one in the wall!
DENNY HAMLIN: We had a top 2 to 3 car and just– you know, it’s tough to swallow those types of weekends where you get nothing out of it.
– These young kids wanting to make a name for themselves and these older drivers saying, uh-uh, not on my turf.
JEFF GORDON: A lot of hype about the young guys trying to kind of build this rivalry between the veteran drivers. I don’t know where you far. Are you a tweener, a veteran? I think you’re a veteran driver. You know, and yet, we’ve seen the veteran drivers be pretty dominant. Do you think it’s healthy? You think it’s good for the sport?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I think it– I think it all started probably around Martinsville, right, with me and Chase? You know, it was a prime example and a great incident for people to then choose sides. And so, that’s when it was like, all right, I like the young guy or, you know, it’s the veteran. It takes time to really perform on a consistent high level at this sport. We’ve seen very few that did it like you did where you just came in here and were great right from the get-go. All these drivers that are making it up, Brian Blaney and Chase and all of them, they’ve earned their way here.
JEFF GORDON: Right.
DENNY HAMLIN: The veteran knows what he can do. The young guy really doesn’t know, so he’s able to push it sometimes further than what we are. So it’s just different. It’s a clashing styles at times. But I think it’s a good balance. And we have a group, now, of young guys that are going to be carrying this sport for years to come.
JEFF GORDON: Well, Denny, don’t change, man. I like what you bring, and it’s always fun to watch a race that you’re in. So keep it going.
DENNY HAMLIN: Thank you. Appreciate it.