DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 3rd Are you happy with your qualifying lap? "That was a great lap for us. We definitely didn't qualify that fast and we've qualifying terrible all year long...
No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 3rd
Are you happy with your qualifying lap?
"That was a great lap for us. We definitely didn't qualify that fast and we've qualifying terrible all year long so no matter where we end up in the top-10 I'm sure it will be better than what we've been qualifying this year. This is what we needed. We've worked so hard on qualifying today and it's paid off."
How important is it for you to start up toward the front of the field on Sunday?
"It's a great accomplishment for this whole FedEx Ground team. We've really, really worked hard at qualifying today and very happy with our outcome so far. No matter were we end up, it's going to be probably better than what we've qualified all year."
How do you think your qualifying lap today?
"It's our ninth top-10 start because seven of them were rainouts. We don't qualify that well. Regardless, if we ended up in the top six or seven, it was probably going to be our best run all year. This is the first race that we did nothing but qualifying trim. We spent a lot of effort on that, and it paid off. It's good to have a reward when you work so hard."
What have the last couple of weeks done for you and your team?
"We knew when to come on, and we didn't sweat what was going on for the regular season. We knew we just had to get in. We didn't want to have to squeak in like we did. We didn't necessarily squeak in, we probably made it by 150 points. We knew the final 10 was a total different ball game. I learned last year that it does not matter what you do the first 26 races because the last 10 are all that count. We set the world on fire last year before the Chase' started. When the Chase' started, it just went straight downhill. We had one bad race, and next thing you know, it just snowballed, and had continuation of bad races trying to make up for just one race. I think I'm more patient this year with that. You try 110 percent each week, but you find a little bit extra juice in your tank these last 10 races when you're given a boost like our race team has, and that's kind of carrying us on right now."
Can you explain how some drivers within teams have more success than others at certain times?
"It's hard to say. You take Jeff Gordon, for instance. There's no doubt that he's just as good as Jimmie Johnson is. Why isn't he winning the races? I don't know. It's just some years, it seems like, you struggle to find what you need in your race car to make it work. And there are some years when you can't do anything wrong. It's tough for us to figure that out. It seems like we went through a stage at the beginning of the year when our best effort we could run in the latter half of the top-10. We couldn't do anything to run up front. It seems like now that we can't do much wrong to the car to run out of the top-five. It's tough to say. We're not changing anything. There is no pecking order. The only pecking order for us whatever team is higher in the points gets a better hotel room. And that's about it. For us, it doesn't make much difference. I know I have the same thing as Kyle (Busch). I have the same thing as Tony (Stewart). Me being higher in points, or worse in points doesn't make me a worse or better driver than I was three races ago. It's just sometimes you get things clicking and you get everyone fired up, and everyone's pumped up going to the race track with their chest out. I think it goes a little bit further. The chemistry goes a little bit further on the race track than people realize."
Can you clarify your comment about the difference in hotel rooms for the teams?
"There are a few race tracks where Joe Gibbs Racing has so many people on the road that you can't all fit in one hotel room. Usually, I think it works where the team that is lowest in points gets the hotel that is furthest away. So, that's how it works. I got razzed by the guys for the last few weeks about being the last one to choose them a hotel room. Now, we're the first."
-credit: toyota motorsports