Phoenix II: Points leader press conference

Phoenix International Raceway November 14, 2010 An interview with: DENNY HAMLIN THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the media center by the points leader, Denny Hamlin. Currently leading second-place driver, Jimmie Johnson, by ...

Phoenix International Raceway
November 14, 2010

An interview with:
DENNY HAMLIN

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the media center by the points leader, Denny Hamlin. Currently leading second-place driver, Jimmie Johnson, by 15 points.

Denny, tell us about your run today.

DENNY HAMLIN: We had a good run. Just bad strategy at the end. Let those guys right back in there. We just got to go in next week and try to beat them.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Denny.

Q: Having a points lead heading into next week, think it will be hard to sleep and concentrate this week coming up?

DENNY HAMLIN: No. I'll be all right. I'll be okay.

Q: What do you think went wrong? You said you had some problems at the end.

DENNY HAMLIN: We were short on fuel so we had to stop.

Q: You talked about the strategy at the end there. Obviously didn't pan out for you. How frustrating is that? Is that a challenge trying to overcome that as you go into the final race of the season?

DENNY HAMLIN: It is. For me I guess as soon as I leave Phoenix, I have to leave Phoenix in Phoenix. That's the thing is you can't let this -- I couldn't control it. I did everything I was supposed to do today. Things didn't work out for me.

All I can do is concentrate on next week once Monday comes and put it behind me. So the thing is, it could have been a lot worse. We could have lost the points lead. But regardless, you never know what can happen in the final race. I hate that it boils down to the final race, but that's what's fans love and things like that.

I felt like we've been the best car over this Chase and we might not win it.

Q: Even though things didn't turn out the way you wanted to do, the fact you had the lead going into the last race, that has to be a good position for you and your team, gives you confidence going into the last race.

DENNY HAMLIN: It does. Trust me, I'd rather race next week knowing I need to go out there and I need to win the race than knowing I need to finish 15th. That's the mentality I'm going to have next week, is to win the race. Full-court press will be on. It will be one of those things where you'll probably see me as aggressive as I've been all year.

It's just one of those days that happens in racing. That's why we run these races. Strategy is part of it. Unfortunately we just had the bad end of the strategy today.

Q: Denny, you mentioned strategy. Was it bad strategy to not stop on that quick caution or was it just bad luck?

DENNY HAMLIN: Well, we don't know if it's the final caution. We could have made it. There were a ton of guys that made it that pitted at the same time we did. Usually we have the best fuel mileage. That part I just don't understand. I can save fuel pretty well. But I was never alerted to save fuel. So I assumed that everyone was going to have to pit. I didn't even think it was a question.

Like I said, I did my job.

Q: Disappointed about the finish, obviously. Can you take some consolation in the fact that you were dominant until then or is that something you think about on Monday?

DENNY HAMLIN: Well, it's a double-edged sword because if you run terrible all day and you finish 12th, you salvage something out of it. Knowing that we had a very, very good points lead with 15 or 20 to go, that quickly diminishes, it hurts. It hurts when you have a car that can possibly win.

So for me, I wasn't aware that anyone was going to try to stretch it and make it. Mike didn't make me aware that anyone was going to stretch it and make it so I went out there and ran as hard as I could. Unfortunately, our car didn't have as good of fuel mileage as everyone else's.

Q: The first five Chase races you only led one lap total. The last four weeks, you've had pretty much the fastest car everywhere but Talladega. Where have you picked it up? Where is the extra speed coming from?

DENNY HAMLIN: I press the gas down harder. I mean, like I said, I told y'all I was going to step it up, and I'm doing what I said I was going to do.

Q: Do you have a control-alt-delete system in your head? Maybe you need a patented Coach Gibbs pep talk to move forward.

DENNY HAMLIN: I feel I've done a good job of that this year. I won't need a pep talk. Of course, I'm going to be disappointed for the next couple hours. But trust me, when I get home, I'm done with it. I'm going to move on and try how to figure out how to win next week. This is fuel for me.

Q: Denny, you're the defending winner at Homestead, had the best car in the Chase. We still don't know what Jimmie can do at Homestead because he hasn't had to race. You have to feel this is stacking up pretty well in your favor.

DENNY HAMLIN: Uhm, I mean, if you look at stats, yeah, it's good. It looks good for us. If you look at history, it looks good for us. But you never know what can happen. This stuff that happened today can happen next week and you can't control it.

We just hope to have a clean race next week and the best car win. That's all that we can ask for to crown the champ.

That's the thing, is I'm proud that we've stepped up our performance like we have over these last few weeks. It's very proud for me to be able to do that. So I'm just going to continue to keep digging as hard as I can go and try to beat those guys.

It's going to be tough. Those guys are going to be good. We see that every week. They're top five. As far as I'm concerned, it's going to take a win.

THE MODERATOR: Denny, thank you. Congratulations.

DENNY HAMLIN: Thanks.

-source: nascar

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson