NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: AAA 400
Topics: AAA 400
September 26, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by our points leader, Denny Hamlin. Tell us about your run today.
DENNY HAMLIN: It was a mediocre day. I hate we didn't run any better. But we got close to where we wanted to be leaving Dover.
It's a little bit frustrating that we still can't get a grasp on this racetrack. Didn't run as good as what we did here in the spring. But if you would have told me at the beginning of the Chase, if I take a 35-point lead out of Dover, I'd definitely say yes. So I'd say we're in a good start.
THE MODERATOR: So far the largest lead in Chase history after the second race so far. We'll open it up to questions.
Q. Denny, coming out with the points lead, decent run for you, could have been worse. Going to Kansas now, do you feel the tracks will be coming to your style more?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I feel like the bigger racetracks, the mile-and-a-half's, oddly enough, seemed to be our strong suit throughout the year. Going a Kansas, then the bigger tracks after that, I feel like those are the tracks we can perform at a much higher level.
So this is kind of a one-off racetrack here, Dover. There's no real track that really relates to it. We don't typically spend a whole lot of time working on tracks like this. So hopefully all of our focus that we've worked on on the bigger tracks will come to when we get to the track next weekend.
Q. Denny, thinking about Kansas, you won a Nationwide race there once, haven't you?
DENNY HAMLIN: Right.
Q. You haven't had a lot of great success in the Cup. Does that help? Close your eyes and think about Kansas for a little bit.
DENNY HAMLIN: We finished fifth there last year. I felt like we almost had a race-winning car there last year. I think our program is better this time around than where we were last year. So if we finished fifth last year, we should improve on it this time around.
When I go there, I'm going to go with an open mind. It is another one-off racetrack where we don't go there but once a year. Really it's almost like everyone is going to have to start over.
That's one thing I do like about our team. Whenever we go to a track where you have to throw everything out the window, put a new setup, a place you go only one time a year, things happen within our garage so fast, the evolution of these cars happens so fast, it's almost whoever can get their car right the quickest at a track like Kansas is going to be good.
I have a lot of faith in our team, that we're able to go there. Even if we don't start out strong, we should end strong.
Q. You got the good news. The bad news is nobody who led this thing after two races has won this thing.
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I've never led it (smiling). I'll take it.
Q. After seeing what we saw today, it kind of brings back a lot of memories over the last five years. Is this almost like one of those cable stations that just keeps playing the same bad movie over and over again?
DENNY HAMLIN: I don't think so. I think just in my mind, just thinking of how that team performs, this is probably their best racetrack. I can't think really anyplace else where they really dominate like they do at this racetrack.
We knew we were going to lose some to that 48, unless they made a mistake or something like that. So I'm really not alarmed by it, not really bothered by it. I think I got to just worry about me. Regardless of who wins that race, especially the 48, it's not that surprising to me.
I think the first two tracks actually, me and Jimmie started 10 points apart before the Chase started. Loudon and Dover, if they said head-to-head after those races you're going to be ahead of him in points, I would have taken it. Those first three, four racetracks are really good for him and really, really bad for me.
We wanted to get out of here with a decent finish and just be within shouting range. The original goal was to be 80 points back after Kansas. Well, that goal has been shifted now to, Let's be at least even when we leave Kansas, then we feel like we can beat those guys in the long run hopefully. If not, we're not going to keep those guys from winning, they're going to. They're going to win. That's the characteristics of that team. Anytime they're faced with adversity, they come and make a strong statement. That's been their MO for a long time.
To me, it's not that alarming and I won't be too alarmed by it.
Q. So do you believe this was more of a statement for your team today than it was a statement made by his team?
DENNY HAMLIN: I think so. I think a lot of people are just waiting for us to slip up, like we have done in the past. I just don't see that happening this time around. I just think our team is too focused at this point and we're running too well for that to happen.
I think it's going to go all the way to the wire. My opinion, I think there's going to be a handful of guys that are going to be racing legitimately for this championship at Homestead. Hopefully we're one of those groups. That's a really good track for us.
I just don't see anyone really running away with it this year. The competition's just too strong.
Q. All three JGR cars finished in the top 10 today. Joey was third. Can you speak to what that team accomplished in the big picture?
DENNY HAMLIN: I'd like to acquire his feel. He's got a great feel for this racetrack. It's something that we can learn.
I like it when Joey runs good because that's more information that we can tap into for our 11 team. When the 20 team don't run good or the 18 team don't run good, it does not help us one bit.
We need all of our cars running competitively for that information exchange to work right. So the better that 20 runs, and hopefully if he keeps that momentum up, keeps running good, then he's going to be a guy that's hopefully in between us Chasers when I need him for a point or two. I think that's going to be important.
Q. Any trepidation driving around the 33 and 29 today? Did you think yesterday was yesterday and today is today?
DENNY HAMLIN: I thought it was over yesterday. It should have been over yesterday, in my opinion. What's done is done. They wanted to voice their displeasure the way they did. That's fine. But it's over with. I didn't see those guys really all day today. So everyone I think was focused on their own race.
I think there's too much to lose within this Chase for anyone to really do anything that's out of the ordinary or make a dumb move. It's just not worth it. There's too much at stake for these race teams.
Q. 83 points between you and eighth-place Jeff Gordon. How much is not slipping up going to make a big difference to you or anybody else?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, you look, and the points look similar to the way they did last week. It's just a few names moved around. So I think it's going to be like that for a little while. You're going to see that for the first five races or so, big moves here and there for the first five races.
That's why I say it's going to be too early until you get to that fifth race to see who is really going to be the contenders and who is going to be the guys that aren't going to race for the championship.
It's just too early to tell. Like the 14, he can light it up and go on fire at any time. You can't discount that group. Probably no one will talk about Tony for the next week or so until he wins, then he'll go on fire and be right back in this championship hunt.
I don't discredit any team in the Chase. Like I said before, everyone said it, this is the most wide-open Chase we've had so far. It will be without a doubt.
THE MODERATOR: Denny, congratulations. Thank you for your time.
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