Denny Hamlin talks repeat at Daytona, road courses, and new Camry race car
The defending Daytona 500 champion took the stage for the NASCAR Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday and talked about trying to repeat in the Daytona 500, if NASCAR needs more road courses, and how the growing process will work with the new 2017 Toyota Camry race car body.
Check out the highlights from Hamlin’s Media Tour appearance:
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Adding more road courses
With AJ Allmendinger running a test session at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, many have talked about adding road courses to the schedule. Hamlin thinks the balance for the schedule should stay close to the same.
“I think we got just the right amount of road courses,” Hamlin said. “I think they're fun, maybe add one or something but road courses overtaking our sport, I'm not sure about that. Ovals are what are sport was founded on.”
Back-to-back in the Daytona 500
Only three drivers have ever won back-to-back Daytona 500 races: Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84), and Sterling Marlin (1994-95). Hamlin looks to become the fourth but understands the difficulty of accomplishing the task.
“It's a very level playing field. On a weekly basis, there are probably 20 teams who could win. When you take it to a superspeedway then that number is probably 30,” Hamlin said. “It's so hard to repeat. It's very intense as the first race of the season. There's always some rust to knock off. It's not like you're in a rhythm. Even though you run some duels and The Clash. It's so hard to do it back-to-back, some of NASCAR's greatest drivers haven't won two of them, let alone in a row. It'd be a great goal of mine. We've won so many other races at that race track between duels and The Clash. Winning back-to-back 500s would be special.”
New Camry for 2017
Toyota released its new Camry race car for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the 2017 North American International Auto Show on Jan. 9, which is featured off of the 2018 Toyota Camry production vehicle. The main change is a new nose design that Hamlin and his Toyota teammates will have to adjust to.
“I really haven't thought of it that way for what is our learning curve with this Toyota Camry,” Hamlin said. “The good part about it is that Joe Gibbs Racing and TRD helped develop this Camry together, so the learning curve will probably be less than learning with other new Camrys in year's past. I would suspect that we come out of the box just as strong as we were last year.”