Richmond: Pole winner interview

DENNY HAMLIN , No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing - Starting Position: 1st What happened on your first qualifying lap? "I just aborted turn three when I realized the first lap wasn't all that good to make sure that I was...

DENNY HAMLIN , No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing - Starting Position: 1st

What happened on your first qualifying lap?

"I just aborted turn three when I realized the first lap wasn't all that good to make sure that I was going to have a good run coming to the white (flag). What a great run by this whole FedEx Express Toyota team. With the wind blowing, I am a little worried that the pavement might cool off faster than it usually would. We're definitely happy starting in the top-three tomorrow if that's where we end up."

How does it feel to win the pole at your home track?

"It feels really good and it's a good start to the weekend -- that's for sure. A pole at Richmond equals a race win anywhere else I go -- it's a great accomplishment for our race team and it's the next closest thing to a win here. We just have to finish the deal off on Saturday night."

Does getting the pole help you to relax more for the rest of the weekend?

"What's good about it is that we are able to perform under pressure. I knew I had pressure because my heart was beating out of my chest during my lap. When your foot is sitting there shaking on the gas pedal, the nerves are starting to get to you. I don't know why -- it's just a starting position for us. It's something special around this race track, you just feel at home and when you perform well it definitely gives you that extra boost of confidence going into the weekend that you were able to get it done."

You won the last short track race of the season at Martinsville, how prepared does that make you for tomorrow?

"Good, because a lot of the similarities to this track are similar to Phoenix and a little bit of Martinsville. I think that's why you see guys like Mark (Martin) perform so well because he was good at Phoenix. I think you'll see some of the same players up there so we expected to run well and it gives us a big boost of confidence. I am particularly better on the short tracks than I am on the bigger tracks. We know when we come here that we always have a shot."

What do you learn from these last trips here that will help you tomorrow night?

"It's tough to say that I've learned anything, but it's just making sure that we capitalize at the right time. We've led laps here, but it's all been in the middle stages of the race and towards the end we weren't able to capitalize or have a bad pit stop. You have to put yourself in the top two to three positions with about 75 laps to go. That's the only way I feel, chance wise, you're going to have a chance to win this race because it is so hard to pass."

How much did the track change from practice to qualifying?

"The biggest thing was the track temperature went down around 15 degrees, which is really good as far as grip. I got to run out there in the Nationwide Series qualifying and I noticed that the track had probably 50 percent more grip than it had in practice. It seemed like we picked up that much more during Cup qualifying. This track is very weather-sensitive. When it gets hot and sunny, it really starts to take it's toll on the rear tires and it gets really slick. These conditions were really optimum."

-credit: toyota motorsports

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Series NASCAR Cup
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing