Denny Hamlin Wins Seventh Race Of The Season For Impala SS at New Hampshire Team Chevy Drivers Capture Top-Eight Finishing Positions in Lenox Industrial Tool 300 Loudon, NH - Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Ground Impala SS, captured his first win of...
Denny Hamlin Wins Seventh Race Of The Season For Impala SS at New
Team Chevy Drivers Capture Top-Eight Finishing Positions in Lenox Industrial Tool 300
Loudon, NH - Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Ground Impala SS, captured his first win of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) season in the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS). It was the Team Chevy driver's third NNCS career victory.
Hamlin's win came from a gutsy call by crew chief Mike Ford for two tires on the last pit stop of the 300-lap/300-mile race to give the young Joe Gibbs Racing driver the track position he needed. Hamlin fended off a strong challenge from second place finisher Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, to claim his first win at NHIS.
Six more Impala SS drivers followed Hamlin and Gordon to the checkered flag giving Team Chevy the first eight cars in the finishing order.
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS, finished third followed by his Dale Earnhardt, Inc. teammate, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Impala SS in fourth.
Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, rounded out the top five in the final order.
Jeff Green, No. 66 Haas Automation/Best Buy Impala SS, scored his best finish of the season in sixth spot.
Richard Childress Racing teammates Jeff Burton, No. 31 Lenox Industrial Tools Impala SS, and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Kyle Busch, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS, and Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS, finished 11th and 12th to give Chevrolet Impala SS 10 of the top-12 finishers at the finish line.
Gordon continues to lead the point standings with a 156-point lead over second place Hamlin. A total of 10 Team Chevy drivers sit in the top-12 as race one of the Race to the Chase is now in the record book.
Chevrolet continues to lead the NNCS Manufacturers' Cup standings with 14 wins in 17 of 36 races completed.
Round 18 of the 2007 NNCS season will be July 7. 2007 at Daytona International Speedway.
MIKE FORD, NO. 11 FED EX GROUND IMPALA SS, WINNING CREW CHIEF:
"Well, we didn't have anything for the front three there today, we were back in sixth or seventh position most of the day. The only shot we had was to get track position, two tires worked for us earlier, so we kind of made an oath that anything under 120 laps to go, we were going to do two. We feel comfortable inside the Chase where we are now, so we could the dice a little bit because we have a little cushion back to 13th. We felt comfortable being in so we knew we could take an aggressive position, and try to get some points so when the Chase does start. That was part of the aggression there."
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FED EX GROUND IMPALA SS, WINNER:
"Oh man, I will tell you, I was driving like a wuss those last few laps trying not to make a mistake. Those guys with fresh tires were coming and Martin (Truex, Jr.) held them off just long enough to get us this win. I have to thank Jeff (Gordon), he could have gotten himself two more bonus points there, but he chose not to and I appreciate that. The two-tire call by Mike (Ford) was definitely what got us the win. Our FedEx Ground team was pretty good all day. We were a top-four car for the most part, but I knew all we needed was clean air for this car to be good. I just can't thank everyone enough, Chevrolet, Coca Cola, Wiley X, the whole FedEx team, Joe Gibbs Racing, the pit crew for turning this deal around. It is amazing; finally we got a win.
"But it really worried me, those guys behind me with four tires and all I was thinking was "Man, just let us get a top-five. Then we started pulling away, then it seemed like those guys were getting me. Then all of a sudden, we started pulling away a little bit. I knew Jeff was coming but it took too long to get to me. But our tires were just giving up, I mean, 30-laps on the tires, and nearly 100 laps on our left sides. I knew it was just going to be a matter of time before we started heading back towards those guys. Man it was half-a-lap long enough.
"Early in the race, it was just hairy back there where I was mid pack. Just couldn't get anything going. Luckily the car is still in one piece because there were times when we weren't going to make it out.
"That is a big deal that we won this one on pit road. That is redemption for these guys. They did a great job on pit road all day. We never really had a chance to size guys up on pit road. We just kept taking four and taking four, and when the right time came around, we took two and it was the winning call."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, FINISHED 2ND :
"Yes and no I was driving this car about as hard as I could there. This car you can't overdrive it, the harder I tried to drive it, the slower I went. I raced so hard with Martin (Truex, Jr.) there, man that was a great battle and I had a lot of fun racing with him, that we used up a lot of our stuff. It took me a couple of laps once I got in front of him to get readjusted and back in my rhythm. We were running Denny (Hamlin) down and he was doing a great job. At the end, those last two laps, he started watching his mirror and I thought we had a shot at him. That was fun; that was a lot of fun. I am real proud of Jeff Meendering to come in here with that kind of pressure and make great calls and great adjustments to put us in positions with a good car to be able to battle those guys. This whole DuPont Chevrolet team, I am just real proud of these guys. It shows what we are made of. That is why we are where we are at in the points. Hopefully that is why we are going to win some more races before it is all over with. Congratulations to Denny, he drove a great race."
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS, FINISHED 3RD:
"The final few laps were both fun and frustrating for me. A lot of fun to race with Denny (Hamlin), Jeff (Gordon), Dale, Jr. and those guys but frustrating cause I though we had the car to beat until that last caution. But Denny did a great job and don't want to take anything away from him. Just that last set of tires didn't agree with me. I am not sure why. From the get-go, I took the green and pushed real bad going in to one and I was real loose off. It just stayed that way. I am not real sure why, but Denny kind of snookered us all with those two tires anyway. I think I could have gotten out front, I would have been all right. But I would get right there and couldn't get any closer and burned the front tires up trying to make it turn. Then I got to racing with Jeff and it was a lot of fun after that. It was frustrating though because I thought we had the car to beat. I am proud of all my guys on the Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. Bone (Kevin Manion, crew chief) did an awesome job with the adjustments especially since we were pretty far off the start of the race. We fought ourselves toward the front after that first pit stop. Had a really, really good car before that last set of tire. Just kept working on it man, and we had it licked there for a little while, but it just wasn't meant to be. Six months ago I would have killed somebody for this third place run but now we know what we are capable of. Our cars are running really well and we have to get them while we can."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER IMPALA SS, FINISHED 4TH:
"Yesterday I forgot about the Modifieds and the difference in the tire rubber that they put down yesterday. It took about 15 minutes to knock that off and get a coating of good ole Goodyear rubber down. Then we got to running and turning better. My car just came and we ran great all day long. We didn't adjust enough for the track change there at the end. "As the track cooled off, we were getting a little tight. I have got to thank Tony Gibson for being the crew chief the last six weeks. This is his last race before Tony (Eury), Jr., comes back and he has his work cut out for him because we have been running so good with Tony Gibson filling in. He has done such a great job. I can't thank him enough. This team owes him an incredible debt because of where we are in the points. Martin Truex Jr. had a good run; DEI had a great day. We led a lot of laps and ran up front all day. That is just what I want ever week and that is what we are getting here lately."
HOW DID YOU DO ON FOUR TIRES? "I was good. I just didn't ask for enough changes as the track cooled off. We got tight at the end as the weather cooled off. I was really good at the start of the race."
WHAT ABOUT GOING TO DAYTONA? "Tony Eury Jr. has got his work cut out for him. Seriously, man. Tony Gibson - I run great with him. Tony Jr. has been lazy. He's been laying out for six weeks. He's got to come in here and work hard. I expect a lot of him."
WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT THE NO. 24 AND NO. 48 WERE ABLE TO RUN AS GOOD AS THEY DID WITH SUBSTITUTE CREW CHIEFS? "No. Those guys are setting them cars up at the race shop and they come to the race track in the ballpark without a whole lot of adjustments to improve the car from there. I've run pretty good with Tony Gibson. I don't think it slowed our team down a bit, to be honest with you - not even a tiny bit did it even slow our team down at all. So I was surprised."
ARE THERE COMMUNICATIONS ISSUES DURING THE RACE SOMETIMES? "No. You rely on Tony Gibson and they've got to rely on whoever is in that spot right now. If you try to do a lot of back support with the crew chief on cell phones and internet and whatnot, it just confuses everybody and gets everybody all riled up. You've got two guys making two calls. You need one chief up there."
IS TONY GIBSON READY TO JUMP INTO THE ROLE OF CREW CHIEF FULL TIME? "I think so, obviously. He's going to rely on friends around the garage area, like Tony Jr. does, to assist you in gray areas that you're not experienced in or have enough knowledge in. I think Tony Gibson could deal with any driver and be awesome. I think he's been around the sport for a long time. He's done a great job for me."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CAR OF TOMORROW PROGRAM? 'I was real nervous when we were in Daytona. I thought we were going to be horrible. But it's leveled the playing field almost to where it's pretty even for everybody. Everybody's got a shot with this car. It's a level playing field right now."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, FINISHED 5TH:
"Today was exactly what we needed. We would have loved to be in victory lane today with our Lowe's Chevrolet, but a good top-five finish. We need to get some solid top-fives under our belts and get further away from that cut off point for 12th and for the Chase and then focus on the Chase after that."
JEFF GREEN, NO. 66 HAAS CNC MACHINE TOOLS/BEST BUY IMPALA SS - Finished 6th:
"We were as good as the leaders, we just needed track position," said Green. "Two tires was the way to go for us.