Continued from part 1 Q</I>: You start here twice, two wins. What is it about this track that makes you so successful at it? Does it suit your driving style? DENNY HAMLIN: On the flat tracks I tend to excel. That's basically just because...
Continued from part 1
Q</I>: You start here twice, two wins. What is it about this track that makes you so successful at it? Does it suit your driving style?
DENNY HAMLIN: On the flat tracks I tend to excel. That's basically just because that's what I've been running throughout my career. You know, the more seasons I have in Cup, I'm sure my track stats will probably go up. It's closer, what I've been running, than the past few years, so I can adapt to it quicker. It's gonna take a while before, you know, places like Atlanta and places like that, that I'm gonna just get out there and go full?on. This track I feel like I can because I have a feel for that edge on the flat tracks. It's gonna take more experience for me to do it on the other tracks.
Q</I>: You put this car away for five weeks, and now you're gonna run it real hard the rest of the season. Was there some reason for that five?week lull? Because your car was so successful at the track, or because the tracks you were going to weren't adaptable, or the car wasn't adaptable for the tracks you were going to?
MIKE FORD: Yeah, the schedule that we had right after Pocono, you know, we had severe damage to the car when we left here, or we would have taken it directly to Michigan. We could not turn the car around in that amount of time and, you know, the preceding races were not places where we would run this car.
We built two brand new cars and took both of those to Indianapolis to test, knowing that we would race this car here and if it survived it, it would be a very strong car at Indianapolis.
So, you know, we used that test to try and improve our fleet of cars. I think we fell a little bit short, and this one still holds the record, if you will, for downforce in the tunnel. And, you know, obviously it shows that on the racetrack.
So we were working on the car, trying to improve it from the last time, and trying to duplicate it as well.
Q</I>: A humorous question. How does it feel to be a guy named "Ford" working on a Chevy?
MIKE FORD: (Laughing). I get reminded of that quite frequently. Something I've had to live with all my life because I've been working on cars all my life. You just learn to laugh and roll on.
Q</I>: For both of you, Denny, you almost make this seem easy. Does any of this really surprise you about what you've done? Mike, what do you see in him that surprises you?
DENNY HAMLIN: You know, I'm not gonna say that I was surprised about this one. I was surprised about the other one, for sure. But, you know, it's just I felt like that somehow with the Racing Gods, we just hit on that magic setup when we unloaded here in June. You know, it's worked so far through these two races.
You know, it's just all I could pray for today was no problems, nothing out of the ordinary happening, and, you know, if we could do that, I felt like we had a really good win coming to us.
On the other hand, you know, we said before the race started, you know, Let's not kill ourselves if we don't win this race. If we get top 5, that's a step in the right direction for what we want to do as far as getting in this Chase. You know, if we do that, then it's still gonna be a great day for us.
Now if that would have happened and we would have not won, yeah, I probably would have been banging my head on the door. You have expectations from yourself and definitely want to succeed at them.
MIKE FORD: From my side, you asked what I see in Denny. Obviously, first part of that question, when you win at this level, it's never easy. It is even harder to duplicate because when you do win in a dominant fashion that we won before, guys do work harder trying to catch up to you. So, you know, we had to work hard at it, you know, to hold that as well.
But what I see with Denny is he's very patient. Outside the car, not always so patient when we're in the hall or talking about things. But inside the car, he's a points racer, and he knows that he needs to finish in order to move forward. That always comes first. When it comes time to race, you know, he always saves a little bit for the end. So that's a good combination to have in a young driver.
Q</I>: I am going to ask this question, Mike. I don't mean this as any kind of an accusation or anything. But a lot of times when a guy dominates a track like this, the first thing people in the garage say is you've got some kind of trick or gizmo, whatever it is, some kind of secret that if you took that away, your car would be junk. As a veteran of this sport, you know that's gonna happen. The guys you ran with in Pocono, guys will be guessing what your gimmick is or secret is. One, is that good? And, two, does that bother you at all that you have people guessing, What the hell have they got in that car?
MIKE FORD: Yeah, kind of look back and this isn't the first time we sat on the pole and won the race here. Did it with Bill Elliott a few years ago and we turned around and won Indianapolis, so guys really were guessing at that.
From my side, I don't really worry about what anybody else thinks. You work on your own stuff. And I'm a gear head and I try and think about our car. If I'm worried about what other people think, it's just a distraction taking away from our program.
So, you know, you know whenever you run good and you kind of nail something down, that people are gonna cast stones at you and make accusations. From my side, I don't really worry about it. I think it's good from the competition side because, you know, it's taking their mind off of what they really need to be thinking about, and that's catching up.
At Gibbs we don't have any gimmicks, we just have good race cars and good race car drivers and good people working on them. You know, we've been able to nail this track here this year, and, you know, we've absolutely missed some. So we've got a lot of work ahead of us, but really don't spend any time worrying about what others think.
Q</I>: (Inaudible question).
MIKE FORD: Yeah, that works in your favor. To be honest with you, the more we run a car and the more, you know, time we spend on the racetrack, we've still got things we want to work on. We didn't have a very good test at Indy, and I think some of that comes down to the cars that we had there. We haven't have as good a caliber of cars, what we're going to take to race. So I think that's where some of the speed was.
So we've still got work to do, as well. If we can take, you know, this car which we know is capable of winning on a fast race track, then, you know, that takes that question out of our mind, and we just get to work on setup and Denny gets to drive the racetrack.
Q</I>: Denny, you said when you first got to the track you kind of waited around and you look for veterans like Mark Martin, go out, follow them to get the good line around the track. I'm looking at the points, you're 8th in points. Mark Martin is 6th in points. Talk about that, you're kind of following him around as well.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, if you always look at Mark over the years, he's been in every Chase. Well, that's because he knows how to points race. He knows that finishing is the most important thing and then getting the most out of your race car at the end is the next thing. That's what I try to do.
You know, even at points today when, you know, we had big leads, I tried to save as much as I can, brakes and all that, for the end of the race when I really, really needed them. So, you know, it's all about patience. Tony has really taught me, you know, and talked to me about it over the last 10 weeks or so that it's so important, you know, not to use your stuff up early, run those fast lap times at the beginning of the race because at the end when you try to do it, it's not gonna happen.
I definitely just try to pride myself on finishing, and, you know, doing the right things on the racetrack.
Q</I>: You talk to Tony about being patient?
DENNY HAMLIN: I know, it's an oxymoron.
Q</I>: Denny, sometimes when a driver has such a great car like you did, the mind plays some games. You think you're hearing a noise or feeling a vibration or something. Did you experience anything like that today? Did you have any close calls at all where you thought maybe something might happen?
DENNY HAMLIN: I was behind the 99 coming up to lap end, something fell off his car. You know, at the speed that I was going, it felt like a dump truck just hit the front of my car, and I thought it caved the whole front end in. But it was just something stuck to the front end. It really didn't get in on the grille or anything like that, so it really was a non issue.
But the guys just did awesome pit stops all day. We didn't really have to come from behind except for that one run where we took tires and other guys didn't. So it was a pretty uneventful day.
Q</I>: You said on Friday you did a video game coming into the race. Did you play last night by chance?
DENNY HAMLIN: No, it's only something I can do when I'm at home. I can't bring that whole system on the road with me. This week, due to the schedule, I wasn't able to get on the game at all. But, you know, we ran a faster time in qualifying, eleven more laps. Maybe I need to stay off of it.
Q</I>: You come in as a rookie with confidence, being an athlete, of course. When you sat here a year ago thinking about this upcoming season, did you in your wildest dreams think you'd be sitting here with two wins at this point?
DENNY HAMLIN: No. Realistically, I didn't. I felt like, you know, in my mind, I says, you know, If I can have the same stats that I had my first Busch season in the Cup side, which is just one top 5 and nine top 10s, I was like, I'll be pretty happy with that.
But to be in the situation that we're in right now, no, I really didn't expect it. I mean, we got three wins with the Bud Shootout. It's like, you know, we're only about half?way in the year. So, you know, if we can double all of our stats, we'll definitely be in good shape.
Q</I>: You said something came off of the 99. Do you have any idea what it was?
DENNY HAMLIN: It looked like just a piece of tape. They were taping their car back together from whatever happened, and, you know, whatever it was, it was just a big, you know, black ball.