RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Before Denny Hamlin drove the #11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, he was just a kid at Richmond International Raceway who was too close to the wall.
Hamlin sat down with 8Sports Director Mitch Carr to talk about how growing up in Central Virginia helped turn him into one of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’s best drivers.
Mitch: There was a spot that RIR ran to promote their races. Had a little kid with a little matchbox car on the walls right out here behind you. I was told your mother said that’s Denny right there. What memories do you have of RIR?
Denny Hamlin: Sitting in Commonwealth C over there. That’s where our family tickets were for many many years. I just remember watching so many laps around this race track. That’s a lot of the reason I feel like I’m good at this track because I’ve just watched so many laps from the other side of the stands. Thinking that I’ve been in the sport for ten years now — it’s still surreal now to go up and do my suite appearances before the race and see my car on the grid knowing that I’m about to compete in this race.
Mitch Carr: Ten years since your rookie year but man you have been racing since you were seven! I’ve got a little secret for you. I had like a half hour conversation with your mother before I interviewed you. She said they had to wait until you were seven to put you in a go cart and I said 7 sounds kind of early how did you already know you wanted to race by then?
Denny Hamlin: I just knew. A lot of it is I came here and I remember as a kid I was five years old when the bug hit me. I was closer to the fence than I was supposed to be and I could just smell the tires and the fuel and the rubber and I was like this is awesome! And the cars flying by. This is what I wanted to do.
Mitch Carr: The rest of the year Richmond is going to come up twice. I guess you’re feeling a little better about the short tracks?
Denny Hamlin: people always ask if I enjoy coming to Richmond and I do as long as I do well. It’s not fun if you don’t do well. You’re here in front of your friends and family at your home race track. The ones that come here are the ones that can’t come visit me other places so we want to come back to the winning ways and be right here.