Denny Hamlin, Team Balance Confidence With Cockiness

When Denny Hamlin's No. 11 team won the Pit Crew Challenge last week, Hamlin's mother, girlfriend and Joe Gibbs Racing's pit crew coach each tweeted the same thing: "All we do is win!"

That's apparently a popular saying for the 11 team, a group whose confidence is growing weekly ("All We Do Is Win" is currently a popular hip-hop song by D.J. Khaled).

But when Hamlin showed up at the track on Friday, he completed only two laps before his engine blew up. Asked about the "All We Do Is Win" tweets, Hamlin only cautiously embraced it.

After all, the level-headed Hamlin knows NASCAR has a way of humbling those who get too comfortable at the top.

"I think it's just a confidence thing," he said. "You can't get too cocky in this sport, because obviously this is where it'll put you – right here with a blown motor and no practice.

"Our team's on a high right now. Everything's clicking really, really well. It's just one of those things where we're living in the moment."

Regardless, the 11 team has reason to crow lately. Hamlin has already won three races this season – one shy of matching his single-year career high – and is fifth in points despite undergoing major knee surgery during the season.

So is Hamlin more confident than ever? You bet.

"I think truthfully there's only about five guys who know they can win every single week," he says. "(Everybody) says they know they can, (and) hey, all the guys you talk to who don't (say they can) are probably lying to you. But truthfully, it's very hard.

"Some guys have better racetracks than others. For me, it was the same way. I knew when I reached good racetracks, I could win at those tracks. I didn't necessarily have the confidence when I went to Texas or Darlington or Homestead. Now it seems like every racetrack I go to, I really do feel like we can win. That's a big boost for myself."

During the first few years of Hamlin's career, he was only a serious threat on two types of tracks: short-tracks and triangles (of course, Pocono is the only triangle).

Because he came from Late Models and rose through the ranks to Cup racing quickly, Hamlin didn't get the experience on bigger ovals like other drivers did by spending a couple seasons in Nationwide, Trucks or ARCA.

"There's no mile-and-a-half or two-mile tracks in the Late Model series," Hamlin said. "When I got thrown into this car, basically it was like, 'Here's a mile-and-a-half, this is how we think you should drive it.' I had no idea how to race on these big tracks. And really, realistically, it's taken three years for me to kind of figure that out."

Now he has, and now he's confident. But when it comes to the line between confident and cocky, Hamlin is erring on the side of caution for now.

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