Phoenix II: Pole winning team interview

Denny Hamlin and Mike Ford -- ...

Denny Hamlin and Mike Ford -- #11 FedEx Chevrolet
Pole Position

HAMLIN: It's happened so fast for me that it's really been tough to sink it all in. I've been given great cars every week by Mike. You know, I feel like any driver could do what I'm doing right now with the equipment I'm being put in. It's just been really good and hopefully we'll ride this wave into next year and hopefully have a shot to get into the Chase.

MIKE FORD , CREW CHIEF: Yeah, with the driver changes we've gone through with the #11, after the first three runs with Denny I realized that we could win races with him. And he's very patient. You wouldn't know that he hasn't run more than a couple of races in the Cup car. He's patient, methodical and knew if we started at that point, that we could work on it and eventually get poles and hopefully wins.

YOU SAID ANY DRIVER COULD DO WHAT YOU'VE DONE, BUT OTHER DRIVERS HAVE BEEN IN THAT CAR AND HAVEN'T DONE WHAT YOU'VE DONE. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

HAMLIN: I really don't know. I felt like that when I got in this car, I got in at the best time. Things were starting to get worked out with the team and they got caught up. They got in so many wrecks earlier in the year that they got behind on cars and preparation that when they finally did get caught up, I got in the car and they've been great. I'm used to the Busch cars and don't really have a lot of Cup experience, so I didn't really know the difference between what's good and what's bad. I just try to make them feel good for me and that was enough today.

TALK ABOUT THE WEIGHT OF GOING OUT AND GETTING POLE, BUT STANDING THERE AND WATCHING PEOPLE TRY TO KNOCK YOU OFF THE POLE

HAMLIN: I went through it two hours before that in Busch qualifying. We were on the pole forever and got knocked off with three cars to go. That was tough but I'll definitely exchange it for a Bud pole.

My birthday is coming up in a few days, so this is a great birthday present for myself and I hate that the year is ending, but I'm really excited about next year. Now we get to go to Daytona one week early and get in the Bud Shootout, which is a huge accomplishment. It's definitely going to be a great winter. It's great to end the year on a good note. You can think about that over the winter and build on it. And we saw what Biffle did at the end of last year and he built on it and carried it into great runs into this year. So, we hope to do the same thing.

RE: COMMUNICATION

FORD: I think part of the reason that Denny and I have been able to run well of the bat is that he's very similar to Bill Elliott. He's very smooth in a race car. There's nothing he does to try to force something there in a race car. So, that's really helped me get over the hump and understanding that the driver has very similar traits to what I'm used to.

HAMLIN: And, Bill Elliott is my hero. Actually, my first race car was a purple-and-white #11, oddly enough. I got that number from Bill Elliott back when he was back racing the Budweiser car and he's somebody I always looked up to and Mike was always the guy he looked up to when he was running good or bad. I didn't know him back then, but I tell you, he's done a great job with me and I feel like I've been with Mike for years and this is only our sixth race. So, hopefully it will build on a good future.

-gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Denny Hamlin