DENNY HAMLIN , DRIVER OF THE NO. 11 FEDEX MONTE CARLO SS AND RAYBESTOS ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR CANDIDATE SCORES HIS SECOND NASCAR CUP CAREER POLE - POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE: DENNY HAMLIN: You know, it was a great run for us. A lot of ...
DENNY HAMLIN , DRIVER OF THE NO. 11 FEDEX MONTE CARLO SS AND RAYBESTOS ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR CANDIDATE SCORES HIS SECOND NASCAR CUP CAREER POLE - POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE:
DENNY HAMLIN: You know, it was a great run for us. A lot of people thought our practice time, we didn't make a qualifying run, we actually did. I felt like that was a good lap for us. We ran like 54:50 or something like that and they came over and said we had to pick it up. The crew did a lot of stuff to the car to make it faster in qualifying. Luckily this is not an impound race. I definitely was hoping to get into a 53, and to almost get in the 52s is pretty amazing.
Q. As a rookie, obviously most people assume you have no experience. Everything is a personal record, so how are you able to build up that fast?
DENNY HAMLIN: I've been on it all week during ?? I have a racing game that simulates all the tracks a lot, and I got on that pretty much all week, me and a group of about five guys. I've got a little bit of experience that way. You just can't beat on?track experience.
What I did was just get out there on pit road every time we had an adjustment and sat there and sat there and waited for a veteran to come off turn 4 where I could get behind him. Most often than not I was behind Mark Martin. I think our second or third run we went by him real fast, and I thought, we've got a really good racecar. All I can do is basically get behind somebody that's been here and learn from the best, and that's what I did.
Q. Can you just sort of talk about your progression this season and I guess in terms of the learning process for you? Obviously you've come out here in the last several weeks and are really making a charge for the Chase.
DENNY HAMLIN: We made up a lot of ground. The last six or seven races we've come from about 20th in points and we're right at 11th, and we're just being solid every single week. We're qualifying Top 10, we're finishing Top 10 on a consistent basis now, and that's what it takes to get in the Chase. You've got to not necessarily maximize your second and third place runs but minimize your 40th place runs. You've got to try your best to not have those bad days and don't put yourself in bad situations.
There's still a lot of guys like Kurt and those guys that will be charging here soon to try to knock us out, so we've got to just try to do our best to stay solid every single week. That's all we can do. We can't help the competition and what they do every week. It's just all about bad luck and trying to reduce it as much as you can the first 25 races.
You know, we had our fair share of the first eight races or so, we had a worse than 30th finish every other week up until about five weeks ago when we started turning the heat on. It's definitely time to go if you're going to make it in the Chase, and we're sitting in a good spot right now.
Q. My question is you talked about tweaking the car a little bit. I'm curious, being a rookie here, did you also find that you were experimenting with different lines?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I was pretty much all over the racetrack, and I still have not found a let?off point in the 3 yet. I got behind a couple guys and they were just driving off away from me getting into turn 3. I'd make up half of it coming off the last corner, but it's so hard there because you don't ?? the track is so flat you kind of lose yourself and where you're at on the racetrack.
You know, I probably hit it just about perfect on my qualifying lap, so hopefully if we can duplicate that again for 200 laps it'll be all right. I think it'll be a lot easier in the race with other cars around you. It will probably take the first half of the race just to learn how to get around this racetrack.
Q. I just wanted to ask you how you think your car will race on Sunday.
DENNY HAMLIN: I definitely felt like we had a much better racecar in race runs than what we did qualifying. We only got to make one qualifying run, but we'd be able to run just about ?? within a couple of tenths of what we ran our qualifying run consistently in race runs. We feel like our car is really good. Hopefully we can just get out in front, and I think track position is going to mean a lot. From what I hear, it's kind of tough to pass here. You have a big problem with aero type being the track is as flat as it is. Hopefully we'll have a good race and get another Top 10.