Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Monte Carlo SS, met with media members at Pocono Raceway and discussed previous success at Pocono; strategy as the Chase approaches and strategy in the Chase. ON THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PENNSYLVANIA 500 AND POCONO...
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Monte Carlo SS, met with media members at Pocono Raceway and discussed previous success at Pocono; strategy as the Chase approaches and strategy in the Chase.
ON THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PENNSYLVANIA 500 AND POCONO RACEWAY IN GENERAL: "This is a good track for us obviously. I feel like one kind of slipped away from us in June when they shortened it because of rain, but, for the most part we are ok. We are coming back here with the same car we have had in the past and we know it responds here. Hopefully we will have the same outcome we had last year."
ON MOST IMPORTANT CORNER TO HIT SETUP NEEDED FOR POCONO: "To me, it is probably Turn Three, you can get (Turn) One good, but Turn Three always seems to be a little bit freer than what you would like here. For me, I have a feel for what balance I need to have and as long as we accomplish that in practice, we are good."
ON POCONO TUNNEL TURN: "The Tunnel Turn here is a lot like Indy in all four corners. Indy kind of has the same characteristics as what Turn Two is here. Your car is really on the edge for the most part to be fast. My car has typically been pretty good in Turn Two, the Tunnel Turn. Hopefully, we haven't taken any of that away."
ON NEXT WEEKEND AT WATKINS GLEN: "I think Watkins Glen is a little bit less technical that what Sonoma is. It is more of a high-speed race track. Sonoma you really have to be aware of your marks everywhere. At Watkins Glen, you can fudge it a little more. At Watkins Glen you may seen some different guys up front, if their car is good. I feel pretty comfortable there. Any road course, I feel pretty good at but Watkins Glen in particular, I have run better at than I have at Sonoma. We will have the Car of Tomorrow there, which is good for us. We will just continue to try to run strong there."
ON ANY CHANGES IN STRATEGY AS THE CHASE GETS CLOSER: "We are not really changing anything up. Here, we are definitely going for an all-out win. We feel like we have a great chance to win here so we are going to everything we can to bring out all the stops to do that. Someplace like Watkins Glen or Michigan in a few weeks, we will probably go to back to experimenting simply because those sort of race tracks we feel like when we go there, we are going to win the race. We go there figuring we can run top-five. This will probably be one of the last ones where we really pull out all the stops for the win."
ON WHAT IS THE KEY FOR HIS RUNNING SO WELL AT POCONO: "I think a lot of it is just the experience that my crew chief, Mike Ford, had. He had a lot of success with Bill Elliott in the past and some other drivers. I think really it has more to do with of me being given a great car here. Just looking back at it, I think it is just the team giving me really good cars every time I come here. They do at a lot of race tracks, but here in particular, it just seems like the way I drive, my entry in to the corners, my exit out of the corners and the way the cars are setup just combines perfectly for this race track to run well. Every driver finds a track, where his style works perfect there. I think mine really works here.
"It is kind of crazy how our setup has evolved here a little bit from what it was to what it is now. It has a lot of the base components, that are the same, but a lot of different things have changes. Simply because the track has aged, we are on different tires, so you are not going to be able to come back here with the exact same setup and be successful. You have go to fine tune on it and I think we have done a good job of doing that.
"There will be a little bit of a difference between what it was in June and this race. The difference between running the June race then this race is a lot closer than from this race and coming back in June after this race. I feel like we had a good point there in the race last year, right before the race came, where we got our car better than it had ever been here so I was very confident of what we have when we unloaded here this time."
ON SITUATIONS THAT HAVE HAPPENED THIS SEASON ON PIT ROAD: "The whole pit road thing is frustrating, especially on my part - making a mistake, having to go to the back. But, all that stuff can be made up. We are a team; we are going to make mistakes as a team. We are going to do good as a team. If we win here this weekend, it is going to be because they supplied me with a great race car. It is frustrating that we ran out of gas, but, at the same aspect, we were going for a win. That is what we set out to do, and that is what we were trying to do. I can't blame those guys for taking the chance."
ON HOW TO MAKE RACES MORE EXCITING AT POCONO WHEN FIELD GETS SO STRUNG OUT: "It is hard to say how you are going to make it more exciting. The Brickyard is the same way. The cars get strung out all over the race track. It is just the characteristics of the race track. When you have a big track like this and the drafts really isn't an issue, you are just going to have us spread out more around the race track. Somewhere like Michigan, it is the same deal. It is tough to say, you just have a two and one-half mile race track, and you have 43 cars to get spread out. I have seen great races here in the past, so I wouldn't doubt that we have another one this weekend."
ON HOW TO CONCENTRATE AND FOCUS EACH LAP AT POCONO: "You try to stay focused as best you can, but this is one of the race tracks you can actually think about what you are going to do because you have such long straight-aways. Here is probably a less stressful race track than most that we go to, on your body as well as your mind. Here it just seems like our team runs well here simply because I have been given great cars and I have kind of adapted to it pretty quick. Don't really have much of an explanation other than that."
ON JOE GIBBS RACING NOW BEING PART OF CHEVY DOMINATION THIS SEASON AND HAVING GREAT RESULTS: "Yes, definitely. Any time that No. 20 team runs well, that is going to transfer to us and it is going to help us run well. Anytime our teammates get a win, it is big for us. It is the same for them when we win. Hopefully we are going to continue that streak and try to get four wins here in the last six or seven weeks, whatever it is until the Chase."
ON CONCERN WITH NUMBER OF WINS HE HAS COMPARED TO OTHER DRIVERS CONTENDING FOR THE CHASE: "We know exactly how much we are behind and who we are tied with, behind and in front of. We are aware of it, but we are not overly concerned with it. We can't be just going crazy over 10 points here and there because ultimately, if it affects your performance and kills your momentum going in to the Chase, it isn't going to matter anyhow. I think this Chase is going to be more about who doesn't make a mistake than it is who just out performs everyone."
ON IF DOESN'T WIN, DOES IT MATTER WHERE HE FINISHES WITH POINTS SITTING AS THEY ARE RIGHT NOW: "No, it really doesn't matter. I think we are in the position where we can give up quick a bit of a race, but we don't want to. It is so frustrating for us, you know, last week at Indy, we felt like, Man we could have run second or third, but we didn't, we finished 22nd. It definitely is not as detrimental, yet we still were fired up because we made a mistake as a team. If you don't win, it doesn't matter too much now where we finish. All that matters when people look at the standings, your name is a little bit further away from the lead."
ON IF IT IS GOING TO BE POSSIBLE FOR SOMEONE TO COME FROM THE BACK OF THE CHASE FIELD AND WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP: "I think so. Because ultimately when we do get in the Chase, this points system consistency is what this point system is still based around. Winning is a premium, but the guy that runs in the top-five every week, doesn't matter is a guy can get five wins and then finish 30th or worse five times. It is going to reward the guy who is still consistent regardless. But the problem is, you don't want to start 60 points behind when the Chase starts."
ON BEING IN DIFFERENT MODE WITH RACES WINDING DOWN TO THE CHASE: "Not really. I feel like we are trying to do the same things. The only thing we are doing different is changing how we setup our race cars when we go to the race shop before we get ready to leave to go to the race track. We are only changing that on race tracks we feel like we are not an all-out favorite to win. Somewhere like here, we are going, obviously, with what we know."
ON WHERE HE THINKS HE WOULD HAVE FINISHED IF JUNE RACE HAD GONE THE FULL DISTANCE: "We would have won. We definitely would have won. I felt like we had the best car. We led half of the laps of the race that actually ran. The only reason we got further back, we pitted and took four (tires) when guys took two or none and just never could make that up in time. We got back close, but we just didn't have enough time to do it. I felt definitely that we had the car to beat last time here, we just had bad luck. Things didn't work out in our favor."
ON STILL USING A VIDEO GAME TO PRACTICE FOR POCONO: "I haven't the last two times here and I didn't win last win. So we will see how it works this time. I have kind of gotten used to the track enough where I feel like I am a lot more comfortable when I go out here for the first few laps than I was in the past."
ON LEVEL OF HAPPINESS ON HOW THINGS ARE GOING WITH THE TEAM: "Our pit stops are getting better, which definitely what we set out to do when we changed the pit crew. That was the most important thing we had to work on before the Chase, not running better or anything like that. We aren't running as competitive. We are still hanging in there but we are not running in the top-three every week like we were before. But I think a lot of that has to do with us going out on the limb, trying to run these races in a different kind of way. Once we get to the Chase, Mike and those guys have told me that they have got everything ready to go for that 10-race stretch. I am confident in that, I know when I show up, I am going to have the confidence that I have the best car. "
ON IF WILL PRESS FOR WINS IN RACES BEFORE THE CHASE: "Yes, we are going to press it if we are running second, yes, we are going to press it. But if we are running 13th or 14th, or something like that, there is no sense in us wrecking a car and getting even further behind."
ON THE ATTENTION HIS TEAM GETS FROM OTHER TEAMS AT POCONO: "I think so, I think they pay a little more attention to us here than they do at other race tracks simply because of our record here. Eventually we are probably going to lose that edge as time goes on. Next year we have Car of Tomorrow, so this is the last race here with the current car. We have to use up all the good while we have it."
ON HOW CLOSE SETUPS ARE BETWEEN NO. 11 AND NO. 20: "We are close, but we are not always spot on. Tony, it seems like his setups are a little bit tighter than mine, most of the time. J.J. (Yeley) is even way freer than mine. We are very very close, but we each have our own characteristics. Tony ran my car in testing and I ran his before and we had the exact same comments, he thinks mine is a little free and I think his is a little tight. We know exactly what we want to feel in a car. We don't really go back to the No. 20 setup, unless we are just way far out. I think it is vice versa for them."
ON HOW IMPORTANT CONFIDENCE IS: "Confidence definitely plays a huge roll in things. I am a lot more confident when I come here than when I go other places. It just seems like when you run well, you gain that confidence, just makes your performance be every better. Here is that place for us."
ON ANY CLOSE CALLS IN THE GARAGE DURING PRACTICE: "I have never really had any close calls like that, but I tend to be more cautious than most guys. NASCAR actually does a pretty good job of making sure people stay within the lines on pit road. If someone is out there, then ultimately, there are walking in the middle of a busy street. I think everyone knows that, but NASCAR does its best to try to reduce those risks. I think they do a pretty good job."
-credit: gm racing