Daytona notes: Denny Hamlin, on winning streak, wants to slow his roll early in Daytona 500

Posted Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Denny Hamlin, who looks like a favorite for the Daytona 500, said his biggest challenge will be holding back for the first 400 miles.

“Obviously, when you go out here and you perform the way we have over these last few races, it’s hard not to just want to go out there, charge out there, show that you’re still on top and still the best, right on Lap 1,” he said. “I think that will be my challenge within myself, keeping the reins back and realizing how long this race is, trying to be as patient as I can.”

Hamlin won the exhibition race last weekend and the second qualifying race Thursday. He also won the season finale last year at Homestead. So he comes into the new season on a high after sitting out part of 2013 with a broken back.

“Last year was so hard on us,” car owner Joe Gibbs said. “I got to tell you, Homestead was a huge deal for us. That was a big win. I think it gave everybody their confidence going into the off-season. Denny has worked extremely hard. I think we were all hungry when the year started. That certainly helps.”

“Starving,” Hamlin said.

Hamlin will start fourth on Sunday, joining Gibbs teammate Matt Kenseth on the second row.

Toyota trim

Toyota’s strength as a manufacturer is evident with Hamlin and Kenseth near the front.

That’s not usually the case in qualifying for Toyota, Ford driver Greg Biffle said.

“They’ve got something in race trim that they don’t have in qualifying trim,” he said. “In qualifying, they’re not there. when it comes to dropping the rag and we’re in race trim, they’ve got a little something that they’re trimming their car out differently than we are. Or they have a little something that makes their car a little faster, it looks like.”

Toyota has never won a Daytona 500. Kenseth won it in 2012, his last year in a Ford.

Truex backup

Martin Truex Jr., who qualified for the front row but has to start at the back of the field because he is using his backup car, ran 13 laps in practice Saturday, his first in the car that replaces the car torn up in Thursday’s crash.

“I was definitely relieved to get some time in the car,” he said. “Honestly, I am really excited about this race car. Without a shadow of a doubt, this car is better than the one we ran the other night in the qualifying race. The Furniture Row guys did another good job. I even hate to call this car a backup because of how good it felt.”

Rookie class

Seven rookies are in the field for the Daytona 500, led by pole-sitter Austin Dillon.

He is joined by Kyle Larson, who qualified 16th and Cole Whitt (23rd), Alex Bowman (29th), Michael Annett (36th), Justin Allgaier (40th) and Parker Kligerman (41st).

“It’s huge,” Bowman said. “I mean, I got the call to come drive a Cup car. I was really excited about that. To make the Daytona 500, it’s huge. It’s something I’ve watched as a kid every year. It just means a lot to me and my family.”

Veterans’ trust

Larson hopes he has the trust of the veterans so they will use him as a draft partner if they need to. But it remains to be seen, the rookie said.

“I think it’s tough for any veteran to trust a rookie like me, especially on a super speedway,” he said. “I saw it a little bit [in the duels] where people would bail on me, which I understand. You have to try and be as smooth as you can and earn their trust.”

Larson said the qualifying race was educational.

“I felt like I kept it in a straight line most of the time,” he said. “There was once where I got a little squirrely, but for the most part, I haven’t had any run-ins with any of the veterans yet.”

JPM at Brickyard

Chip Ganassi said he would consider using Juan Pablo Montoya, his former Sprint Cup driver, for the Brickyard 400 this summer, since Montoya expressed interest.

“I would never say never,” the car owner said. “ I would never say no to that. I think he is talking about Penske, though. They are certainly capable of doing that. He says he is enjoying it over there.”

Montoya is driving in the IndyCar Series this year for Roger Penske.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Sunday, November 23Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Sunday, November 23Full Scoreboard
Portland 11/23 6:00 PM ET
LA Clippers 11/23 6:00 PM ET
Memphis TV: FSN-PT, SPSO
Charlotte 11/23 6:00 PM ET
Miami TV: SPSO, Sun Sports
Golden State 11/23 7:00 PM ET
Oklahoma City TV: NBA TV, CSN-BA, FSN-OK
Denver 11/23 9:30 PM ET
LA Lakers TV: Altitude, TWC SN
Full Scoreboard
Week 12Full Scoreboard
Kansas City20Final | Box
Oakland «24Gridiron Replay
Cleveland «26Final | Box
Tampa Bay134th Qtr 0:13 | Box
Chicago21@theGridiron | TV: FOX
Cincinnati «22Final | Box
Jacksonville3Final | Box
Indianapolis «23
Green Bay «24Final | Box
Detroit94th Qtr 0:49 | Box
New England34@theGridiron | TV: FOX
Tennessee244th Qtr 5:42 | Box
Philadelphia40@theGridiron | TV: CBS
St. Louis01st Qtr 11:40 | Box
San Diego0@theGridiron | TV: FOX
Arizona01st Qtr 8:40 | Box
Seattle3@theGridiron | TV: FOX
Miami 4:25 PM ET
Denver TV: CBS
Washington 4:25 PM ET
San Francisco TV: CBS
Dallas 8:30 PM ET
NY Giants TV: NBC
NY Jets 7:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Baltimore 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Sunday, November 23Full Scoreboard
St. Louis 11/23 4:30 PM ET
Winnipeg TV: TVA Sports, FSN-MW, TSN3
Montreal 11/23 7:00 PM ET
Arizona 11/23 8:00 PM ET
Anaheim TV: FSN-AZ, FSN-W
Chicago 11/23 9:30 PM ET
Vancouver TV: CSN-CH, SN-PAC
Full Scoreboard