Pocono: Hamlin - Friday wake up call

DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX GROUND MONTE CARLO SS, WAS THE GUEST OF TODAY'S NEXTEL WAKE UP CALL AT POCONO RACEWAY. HAMLIN DISCUSSED COMPETING AT THE PRELUDE TO THE DREAM EVENT AT ELDORA SPEEDWAY THIS WEEK, HIS SUCCESS AT POCONO, HIS TEAM'S ...

DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX GROUND MONTE CARLO SS, WAS THE GUEST OF TODAY'S NEXTEL WAKE UP CALL AT POCONO RACEWAY. HAMLIN DISCUSSED COMPETING AT THE PRELUDE TO THE DREAM EVENT AT ELDORA SPEEDWAY THIS WEEK, HIS SUCCESS AT POCONO, HIS TEAM'S IMPROVEMENT FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR AND OTHER TOPICS.

ON THE PREDLUDE TO THE DREAM: "The most important thing is that they raised a lot of money for Victory Junction and a lot of other good charities. It was a lot of fun. I didn't have the best of race cars but we made the best of it and at least made the main this year because I didn't crash, so that was good."

ON HAVING SUCCESS AND SWEEPING BOTH RACES IN POCONO IN 2006. WHAT IS YOUR EXPECTATION THIS WEEKEND FOR POCONO AND WHAT IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS HERE? "I don't know, I mean, I guess you could say that we expect to win and we are starting to feel that way at every race track that we go to now. We are running in the top five, top three, really, week in and week out. The Car of Tomorrow, same as the regular car. We are real confident in what we have. We have got the same car back, but it has been changed a million different times and it is nothing like the old car that it used to be but it is just the same chassis number. We have the new Chevrolet engine here which is going to be very good down these long straight a ways. Looking forward to it."

IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT WHEN YOU ARE RACING HARD WITH SOMEONE, HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO KEEP THAT EMOTION IN CHECK? "It is tough, I have somebody that sees when I am about to do something and they basically say that it is just not worth it, and it's not. Usually, if I didn't have someone in my ear saying something, I would probably do more things than I really do, but you know, it's hard, it is really hard to hold back and not show somebody what you think, because pretty much, hand signals don't even work anymore. Guys were taking it to a whole new level."

ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT KURT BUSCH DIDN'T GET A RACE SUSPENSION FOR WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEKEND? "I don't know. That would be a big step. I think that you could argue with us, too heavy, too light, either way but to be surprised that he didn't get a suspension, I think that would be really over the top."

WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT LAST YEAR AND WHAT YOU ACCOMPLISHED HERE, DOES IT BOGGLE YOUR MIND THAT THERE ARE DRIVERS HERE WITH 20 TO 30 CAREER STARTS ON THIS TRACK THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO FIGURE THE PLACE OUT? DID YOU EVER SIT BACK IN THE OFF SEASON AND SAY WOW, THAT WAS REALLY IMPRESSIVE? "Yeah, I mean even after the first race, it was amazing to me how well we ran here and it seemed like it took two laps of practice to realize that we were good enough to win. I still have not learned everything that I needed to know about these cars or this race track still. There are still some things and lines that I could use that would be better for me, but I think that until I don't have a car that is not as dominant as that car was last year, I am just going to keep doing the same thing, obviously it is working."

ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE RACE TEAM FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR: "Well, we knew that Charlotte and Dover, worst two race tracks without a doubt, if we could just keep our emotions okay for those next two weeks, then we were going to be over the hump. Without the fuel situation, those guys staying out, literally, I crossed the line at Charlotte and was like, this is great, third place at my worst race track and we finished third. We still finished top 10, which is very good and we were one of the cars that had to pit, and then to run fourth at Dover after qualifying so far back, that is the sign of our team right there.

"We are head over shoulders better than what we were last year and what is so good for us and makes us so confident is that we were 60 some points out of the championship last year and we were nowhere near as competitive as what we are this year. We are just trying to get to the Chase and we are trying to get some wins and we feel that if we can start that Chase on a fairly even playing field and not be 60 to 70 points behind then we could probably win it."

HOW MANY WINS SHOULD YOU HAVE IN YOUR ESTIMATION? "We very easily could have had three wins right now, which that is still going to put us one behind Jimmie but he has been more competitive than what we have on the overall race tracks, earlier in the season. It looks like we are just hitting our stride now, these last, probably seven, eight, nine races we have been very, very good. It is a situation where we are looking at the points now and we feel fairly comfortable with where we are at in relation to 12th.

"We are starting to take the mentality now that we have got to start taking chances of getting wins because if we are not winning, we are not doing anything. We might as well be 12th in points, if we are leading and we don't have a win, it doesn't matter. Right now we are going to start to look at damage control. At the end of the race, if we just make a crazy call and it burns us, how far is it going to burn us? Is it going to burn us to where we loose 100 points or hey, we can loose 50, it is not too big of a deal."

ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT MARK MARTIN CAN SIT OUT RACES AND STILL BE IN CHASE CONTINGENT? "No, and I mean the closer we get to Chase time, they are definitely going to have to start thinking about how competitive they are on a part-time basis. He is going to think, is 10 straight races that bad to try to do, and I think that he is extremely happy with his schedule right now, but I tell you, for a guy that has not won a Championship, that is awful tempting. I think that he is probably more competitive than he's been in years."

-credit: gm racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup