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Denny takes the #20 Interstate Batteries Camry to Vegas

March 3rd, 2011 by

This weekend, your eyes won’t be deceiving you. That’s really a number 20 on the side of the Interstate Batteries Camry in Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300 Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas. The driver is different, too: Joe Gibbs Racing veteran Denny Hamlin. And when Denny gets behind the wheel, look out for a great race.

Last year, Denny finished second in this race, and he loves taking on the 1.5-mile oval. We asked Denny to tell us how he likes racing the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Camry:

Hamlin will be teamed up with Crew Chief Adam Stevens, who is just in his third race as the pit stop boss. In his first two races as crew chief, Stevens and Joey Logano teamed up for 12th– and sixth-place finishes, respectively, in Nationwide Series races at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.

So tune in and check out Denny Hamlin in the white-hot #20 car this Saturday in Vegas!

Q&A with Denny Hamlin, Driver of the No. 20 Interstate Batteries NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:

image How do you approach a race weekend like Las Vegas, when you’re pulling double duty?

“It’s a little more track time, but I like concentrating on the (Sprint) Cup cars as much as I can. We’ve cut our schedule way back on the Nationwide side in recent years, which makes this one of those races where we can go for broke and try to win.”

Are you looking forward to being back in the Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide Series program?

“Yeah, I haven’t had a chance to work with (crew chief) Adam Stevens, yet, but I’ve heard really good things about him and we worked together a little bit when he was working with the 20 Sprint Cup team. The JGR Nationwide cars are always strong, so I’m looking forward to going for the victory. It’ll be neat to have Interstate Batteries on the No. 20 Toyota. Interstate’s had a long association with Joe Gibbs Racing so, hopefully, we can put them in victory lane with the new white paint scheme.”

What are your thoughts on the new-style Nationwide Series car?

“I’ve only driven it once and that was last fall at Richmond. Obviously, running it at a short track is completely different than racing it at a 1.5-mile oval like Las Vegas. I know the JGR Nationwide Series guys have worked really hard in the offseason to build all new cars, so I’m excited to see what they’ve learned. Having the extra day of practice out there will help, and I think we’ll be in good shape for Saturday.”

Q&A with Adam Stevens, Crew Chief of the No. 20 Interstate Batteries NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:

What are your overall thoughts heading into Las Vegas?

“I’ve never worked with Denny before, directly, but I’ve worked around him on the Sprint Cup side. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to seeing how our intermediate program stacks up. I think we’re bringing a good car. I think we’re bringing the best car in our fleet as far as the 20 team is concerned. So, we’re putting our best foot forward.”

This is your first year as a crew chief and you spent the first two races of 2011 working with Joey Logano and now are working with Denny Hamlin. How challenging is it to switch drivers?

“I’m new to the crew chief job, so it’s another wrench in the works. Obviously, the more experience you have with someone, the easier it gets. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. A lot of it is just understanding how they describe the car and the magnitude of change they need from the look in their eyes or the sound in their voice. Right now, we just don’t have that experience, so that makes it more of a challenge.”

How important is the extra day of practice at Las Vegas?

“It’s huge. You can afford to be a little bit off when you unload because you’ll have the extra four hours of sorting your car out. The compact schedules without the extra time, there’s just not enough time to shake your car down and find out exactly where you need to be. So, having that extra time is huge.”

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