Toyota Motorsports press release
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What do you think about this weekend’s race? “Look forward to it. It’s not too many times you get to come to a superspeedway race with really nothing to lose, but kind of a situation for us where we can go out there and just have fun and not worry about wrecking."
If Ryan Newman was competing with Kyle Busch for the championship, would you not be working together? “I don’t think so. I don’t think that part of it would really change. It’s been probably three years or so that we’ve been working together, so it’s -- I don’t think so really. I think everything would be status quo."
What does it take to be a good pusher in the draft? “Well, there’s a whole lot that goes into it, but to be a good one you have to have good communication with the guy that’s in front of you. You have to know when to back off to get that guy some room to make different maneuvers around other race cars. It used to be you had to have just a really fast car to push and now everyone can do it, so the playing field is a lot more level now than what it used to be, as far as that’s concerned. The guy in the back is at such a disadvantage because he can’t see anything. You really rely on the trust of the guy in front of you that he’s going to guide you in the right direction."
Is this a race where setup is not as critical? “Yeah and you look and it’s fairly relaxed within the whole competition standpoint because it’s kind of a week off for the engineers, the crew chiefs and things like that, for the most part. They don’t spend hours and hours thinking about the setup we’re going to run for Sunday, so it’s a big off week as far as that is concerned. It’s just really you’re playing roulette with what is going to happen. Where is the ball going to fall? You have no idea what is going to happen, so really you just line them up and you would see no different race and no different competitors going for wins if you just lined up and we just came here on Sunday and raced versus having two days of practice and qualifying. So for us, it’s kind of a very relaxed weekend and it is for everyone."
Is this a situation where you have to work on communication with your partner? “It is. Most of the time you do spend working on strategy and the communication with your teammate for the day type thing. You spend more time working on that. We never on a race weekend worry about what the 39 (Ryan Newman) is doing or whoever our partner is on our superspeedway program. We wait on them to do their changes and figure out what they want to work on, what we want to work on -- that's something that you never see really in any other kind of racing, other than this two-car tandem stuff. It’s a little different element than what you see and what we’ve been used to in the past. It’s all about the strategy here. It’s not about those fast race cars."
What is the consequence of the pop-off valve popping off? “It empties the radiator of fluid and basically when you empty the radiator of fluid then the engine runs hotter and you will eventually blow up. There’s a reserve amount of fluid that we carry in our car for the radiator and with this pop-off valve, once it builds enough pressure in that tank of water it starts releasing all that water out of the tank. You’ve got to react to it pretty quick when it does pop off basically and you get to a certain temperature that activates it then you have to react to it. We’ve run our temperatures here in practices the same as what we did in previous races and it was no different. I don’t think that there’s any change from what we’ve had in the past."
How strong are you at the final five race tracks? “The last really five Chase races are all good race tracks for us; typically has been the case over the course of my career. We’ve always run much stronger the last five races than we have the first five. A lot of it is the tracks that are there at the end. We’re looking forward to it. We had a great car there (Martinsville Speedway) in the spring and had a chance to win. I think we got caught with fuel mileage and got caught on pit road for something. Other than that, we know every time we go there that we’ve got a shot to win. We’re going to do some EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) testing there, so that will hopefully help us with tuning on our setup quite a bit and if we can do that then we should be better."
Can you put fluid back in the radiator if the pop-off valve pops off? “You can. It will take time, but obviously the lap takes so long to go around here that you really won’t lose a lap. It will eventually. It doesn’t release it all at once. You have time to react. You’ll have a few laps of fluid in reserve to give you a warning. That’s what it is -- a warning for us that we’re running too hot. We’ll see it on the windshield when it starts to release and we’ve got a few laps to react before that tank runs dry. When the tank runs dry, that’s really when we have some issues."