NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Ford 400
Topics: Ford 400
Martin Truex, Jr.
November 19, 2006
MODERATOR: We have two of our top competitors in here today with a career-best second place finish today and the number 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr. Congratulations Martin. We also have joining us in the number 11 FedEx Ground Chevrolet, finished third in today's race, he's also our 2006 Rookie of the Year, congratulations to Denny Hamlin. Let's get thoughts from both of these guys. Martin, your best ever finish in a Cup car, talk about that today.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, it was just a great day, really a great weekend overall. Our car was really good when we tested down here and had a lot of confidence coming in here to this weekend. We were able to carry that into a good run, our car was good all day long. I think we ran inside the Top-10 for most of the day, and the guys done a good job, made good adjustments. We were able to keep up with the racetrack and I think at one point we were probably the best car out there when we got in the front. When we had the lead, our car was really fast and then we just lost track position and took us a while to get it back.
It's been a pretty tough season. The last few months we've really come together and had some good runs and just to be able to close the deal, feels really good.
MODERATOR: Denny, you had a good run today, your thoughts as you book back on it.
DENNY HAMLIN: This has definitely been a year that exceeded every expectation, myself and everyone on the team had. Our ultimate goal at the beginning of the year was to try to win the Rookie of the Year, Ray Bestos Rookie of the Year and finish Top 15 in points. We far exceeded that and I told J.D., don't get all excited now and expect me to finish Top 3 from now on in the points. Hopefully, you know, these seasons, they don't come by very often. But what I'm excited about, I know the potential of me as a driver is not nearly at its peak yet, and we are competitive the way we are.
You know, it's just a great building year and I guess nothing less than second in the points from here on out.
Q. Did y'all figure out at Dover? What's been different here lately?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: We figured out a lot of things throughout the season and that was just about the time where we started putting them all together. We were running some new cars that we were building and it was just -- it just took us a long time to find some things that worked. There was so many times that we had just a decent car and we'd make bad adjustments on it and just make bad decisions on changes, and that really hurt our car at the start of the race. Just took us awhile to build up that notebook and that confidence and that set of things that we could use each weekend.
You know, for a long time there, we were just kind of shooting in the dark, and took us a while to get some experience and some confidence. Once we got that, we just got on a roll, and our cars have been really good ever since. Just credit to my team for giving me great cars and doing a great job and making them drive the way I need them to.
Q. What happened with Kasey Kahne on that last restart? How were you able to get around him?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: He used too much brake and not enough gas.
DENNY HAMLIN: That's the way I saw it.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, that was it.
DENNY HAMLIN: I think mainly me and him bogged each other down riding side-by-side too much and that opened up the door for Martin to just blow by us. I was looking out for myself and didn't even pay attention to what was behind me.
Q. Martin, if you could talk about what you learned over these last ten races and talk about how you've got to really focus on that going into 2007.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, really, I mean, the biggest change for us has been our cars. We come to the racetrack now, we unload it, our car is competitive and it's something that you can tune on. You're not throwing four springs and four shocks and your front end is not off. You get there, you're close, you know what you have works and you just need to fine tune it and that's been the big thing. We've been able to come to the track and know what we have is going to work. For a long time we didn't know that and we were not guessing, but not having full confidence that it was the right thing to do. Now we kind of know what works for us and we know what works good.
So it's a lot easier for us.
Q. Could you please explain to us the running bet you had with Tony, and what you're going to tell him now?
DENNY HAMLIN: Oh, well, it was just more of a competitive thing. You know, he finished fourth in his rookie year, and we were able to beat that and I think that was the best that anyone's done since 60 or 50 or 40 or something, I don't know.
It's just fun to be competitive with Tony in that kind of way. We were able to finish higher in the points than he did in his rookie year. I would trade it for just his stats alone when I'm done with my career.
Q. And what was the best?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, just a handshake really. We really didn't bet anything.
Q. On the final restart, did you think you had anything for Greg Biffle, or was his car just too strong tonight?
DENNY HAMLIN: I didn't think I had anything for Greg. I thought I had something for the 9. And tell you the truth, I didn't know the 1 was coming as fast as what he was. I thought I had J.J. behind me and no one told me he ran out of fuel. I figured I at least had someone will to hold people up for a little while to let me work on the 9.
You know, at the time I thought all I needed to do was get around the 9 to get into second in points, but it turns out I needed to win the race, so didn't matter anyway.
Q. For Denny, with 80 to go, you had to pit twice to fix a mistake. How hard was it to settle yourself back down when that occurred?
DENNY HAMLIN: Fine, I was fine. I had a lot of emotions going on because we had just preached a nice, easy, smooth stop, nothing fast. And we missed -- we dropped the jacks for the lug nuts already. I was very frustrated because I had spent 170 laps trying to get to the front from starting 33 and finally got in the Top-7 or eight and that happened. I figured we just fell back to fifth or sixth in points and who knows where we were going to end up. I was angry at the time, but I settled myself back down.
Q. Martin, is it unrealistic to think or even expect that two EI cars will be in the Chase next year?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don't think it's unrealistic. Since the Chase started I think we've ran in the Top-10 in every single race or had cars capable of finishing in the Top-10 every single race and they have been all different sort of racetracks.
I feel like my team is definitely capable of doing it. I feel like our equipment has come a long way and obviously Junior made it this year and now we have a year of experience under our belt. I don't think it's out of our reach by any means.
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