Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Impala SS - Finished Second
COMMENTS ON THE RACE:
"We had a really good car right from the get-go. We started off strong, were good through the mid-point. We got off on one green-flag run when we fell back to third or so but other than that, we fixed our car on that pit stop and it seemed like the best car all day. We just made a mistake there on pit road, went back to 15th with about 50 to go and I knew that kind of wrote our race off."
HOW FRUSTRATED ARE YOU? YOU SHOULD PROBABLY HAVE TWO OF THESE VICTORIES.
"I should have a heck of a lot more than that. If we lose about 20, 30 points when it comes down to the championship, we know exactly where we lost it and that's on pit road. I gave away Phoenix, that's my fault. But there's two to three other races that we had the best car most all day and even at the end and just gave it away on pit road. Today was a prime example of that."
ARE YOU UPSET?
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENED ON THAT PIT STOP?
"I didn't see. I saw that it was on the right front. Whatever the problem was, I noticed our right side was jacked up when guys were taking off. I think we came in second on that pit stop. It was probably a lug nut issue or something like that. I really don't know it though. Two lug nuts fell off? It looked like a glue problem or I don't know. Who knows."
ARE YOU FRUSTRATED THAT THE HENDRICK GUYS KEEP BEATING YOU?
"Well, at Bristol I lost that lead with 10 to go because of a fuel pump issue. At Martinsville, lost it (because of) a loose lug nut and had to go to the back. It just goes on and on every week. It's just the same story. We're at a different race track and I'm here talking about the exact same things. It's all fine and dandy, I hope they talk about how good the Hendrick cars were so we're going to keep digging."
TALK ABOUT YOUR MINDSET AFTER THE PIT STOP - WERE YOU TAKING RISKS TO DIG OUT OF THE HOLE?
"I was. We definitely weren't making any friends. That's what's most frustrating. I try to drive these guys clean every single week but when I get put back in the corner like I was, all I was looking to do was get somewhere near the top five. I felt like that was our realistic expectation, best-case scenario, maybe fifth or fourth. But I had to rough guys up and I had to rely on guys to cut me breaks when I needed them. Carl (Edwards) was one of them and I hate to have to rely on my competition to help me to win races but luckily I had the help from those guys when I needed it. Hopefully I will be able to pay that back one day."
DO YOU THINK THAT THE FACT THERE WEREN'T MORE ACCIDENTS IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE CARS' DURABILITY?
"I think it took (hits) maybe a little bit better than what our current car does and I really thought that there was going to be a lot more accidents. Other than one or two guys, I think for the most part there was a lot of good give-and-take out there and that kind of translated into kind of the clean race that we had. We hit the walls at this track anyway and I think that with these cars having no front downforce, you get behind somebody and it just pushes real bad into the wall. I think guys overall did a really good job and I was really surprised too, that this car handled as good behind other cars as what it did. That is a good thing looking forward that I thought this car was really going to push bad on this high-speed race track and really, it didn't. I was pretty impressed."
HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO GET AROUND MONTOYA SO MANY TIMES?
"That was frustrating. He was one of the ones I was talking about earlier. I don't know. He's not used to this type of racing but he's doing a really good job of trying to get back to this type. Those guys who race in Formula One are running as hard as they can every lap and he didn't have to do that to go fast. I know a lot of situations where I came up on him, he was fighting for a lucky dog so that's kind of understandable. There's been a lot of times where I probably pissed off a lot of people because I was racing for a lucky dog so it's hard to bash him on that one."
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO SUGGEST TO FIX PROBLEMS LIKE YOU HAD TODAY?
"The immediate reaction you think about is 'get rid of people and get new people'. That's just not the answer, I don't think. I think you bring new people in there and the chemistry is not the same; it takes a while to get gelled and everything. So we need to sit back and I think it's just a head aspect right now. Their pit stops range from 12.50 to 18.50 (seconds). We know that they're capable of doing 12-second stops, I think just that their head gets in the way of their hands and it's just the mental aspect of it. They're thinking about not making mistakes and they end up making a mistake. I'm not going to bash my guys. They help me out a lot over the course of this year. Unfortunately we got hurt at the wrong times. Had we been running 20th and we had a terrible stop, oh well. When you're in contention for these wins it's all about just not making mistakes, not going out there and doing an 11-second stop. You don't need that. As fast as our car was if we lost one or two spots on pit road, I can get that back. But I can't get 15 back. I got 14, but not 15."
WAS THERE AN ISSUE WITH DEBRIS ON THE LAST FEW LAPS?
"If the cameras couldn't have pointed that one out. it was big. There was somebody's entire fender and underbody on the race track. If the car was two-wide or three-wide down the back stretch, they were going to run over it. I knew a caution was going to come out. I saw that and I literally pumped my fists in the car because I knew a caution was going to come out. Of course, a caution comes out and it's game over. But no caution and Hendrick gets another break. I don't mean to open up another can of worms on that one. Forget I said that. I was just thinking in my head (laughs)."
DID YOU KNOW THAT GORDON HAD SOME RADIATOR PROBLEMS AND THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE A CHANCE?
"I saw under caution that he was spitting out water but I knew as soon as it went back green and him being in clean air that his car was going to cool off and it probably did. I didn't know we were going to run back to him as fast as we did back there at the end. I don't know how much faster we were there at the end but it looked like a considerable amount. We just came up a couple laps shy. We weren't going to beat him because of mechanical failure, I knew that."
-credit: gm racing