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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Aaron's 499

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Aaron's 499

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Aaron's 499

Denny Hamlin
Juan Pablo Montoya
April 27, 2008


TALLADEGA, ALABAMA

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It was pretty hard, overchecking down the straight, pretty hard, and one of those -- (indiscernible) -- I hit it pretty hard, I missed a car. We talked about it a little bit and even like that, you know, they said, yeah, you know, it's bent but there's no holes or anything, so we're going to leave it like that. It was running the back of the car at some point and then a caution comes out with six laps to go, otherwise we are going to leave it.
I felt pretty bad for him with like 15 laps to go or 20 and made a couple moves that took me all the way to the front.
I really helped Kyle, I managed to get on his bumper, and when you can get on somebody's bumper you can actually push them all the way around the corner, the lap.
And I made up a bunch of ground and it was good and I got up to second and then dropped to fifth and got up to second again.
It was pretty cool, pretty interesting race.

Q. I noticed you haven't had all that much experience on the restrictor plate tracks, but seemed like the dynamics of the bumper have changed today? Was it this track, instead of just a bump, and the lead car would go ahead; it was a push all the way around the track.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, I think what's different is here are the bumps and you do get a little different handling, and you can even run three-wide; there this year where here, you can run three-wide, wide-open and push it and get on somebody's bumper. And I think it's very important to make sure when you get on the corner, you don't hit them.
You get enough momentum and make sure you get to the bumper, and when you get to the bumper you can start pushing them.
On the last stop I was getting hit and, it's like -- it felt like a car crashing the straight -- it's like over and over again, it's like, boom, boom, it's pretty cool.

Q. (Inaudible)?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It's hard. It's very hard to know. You've got to think the guy leading -- it was a tough choice.
I was thinking trying to make a move out of fourth.
To have a good result like, this it was huge.
THE MODERATOR: We welcome Our third-place driver, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Freight, Denny Hamlin. Talk about today's race.
DENNY HAMLIN: It was really fun from my standpoint. You know, I had a car that just relatively could do whatever it wanted to do, and whenever I wanted to pull up to somebody's bumper, I would, and you know, when I would push him, I would push him as long as my water gauge would let me or as long as they could hang on to it.
So I mean, that's all you can ask for and to have a car as good as ours, the best car don't always win. You've got to put yourself in position, and we were with 20 to go and just made a bad move there, got shuffled out and got back to 20th, and with all the cautions all we had time to get back to was third and just shows how strong our car was.

Q. The race looked remarkably aggressive, you were talking about that; was it fun doing that? Normally a race like that there would have been crashes like every five laps, but there were so many great saves; was it the car saving it, or were you guys able to save it or what was that all about?
DENNY HAMLIN: I think that has a lot to do with the package which we have. We have small restrictor plates, the track has a lot of grip, the tires have good grip, and, you know, the cars were just so savable, you could really push a guy through the corner, and he could even have his rear end lifted up and he still could maintain control.
That's why the racing was as tight as it was.
Even when the cars were able to make contact, they were able to save it because there was so much excess grip out there.

Q. For both you guys, when you're in a situation like that, how far ahead can you plan anything, or is it just hang on and go -- obviously everybody thought we were coming to the end of the race and everybody had these big faster plans, and you just have to react instantaneously, right?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, I don't think you plan anything. You depend so much on what people behind do, and once people get around behind you, you either stay in your lane or go pick up the other lane in the front and if you pick it up -- it's they are going to drop you, and it's just pretty tough.
You've just got to learn.
I screwed up a couple of times today, and I just couldn't do it because it was just too tight.
At the same time in the last few laps you have to find ways to slow them down.

Q. It was very aggressive out there l, what happened with the wreck with Paul Menard, a little extra below the line when it happened?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The 12 got pushed and the 40 pushed me, and I actually got in sideways. So I went in below the line not to wreck him and he just didn't give me any room.
I had nowhere to go. I felt so sorry. As soon as he spun, I just called to see if he was okay. That's one of those deals when something like that happens and people start checking out, there's just nothing you can do.

Q. We just got audio up here. Can you put this into perspective, Juan? This kind of performance, first by you, what it means for you and also what it means for your whole organization which is really been struggling?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: You know, it's funny to say "struggling," because you look like the two cars, the average finish is a lot better. Last year we would normally finish 22nd, 24th everywhere, and you know, two or three times a year -- or one year a second place there and a fifth place here and the rest was 20th place. Now we are running 15th average every week, but we never really had a result like today. I think it really motivates everybody back in Charlotte, and hopefully, you know, it's time that we are headed in the right direction.

Q. Apologize if this question seems stupid because I have no idea what you already said about it, but there seemed to be times today -- was it surprising to y'all as it was for people watching that there seemed to be a lot of time when two cars should pull away from 12 or pass ten or whatever, and is something no one knew about until today?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: In the old cars it was the same way: Once you can get into their bumpers and stay on the bumper you can make up a lot of ground. It seems like at least my car could get to two feet pretty easy. The two feet could get to the bumper was very hard, and once you could break the line and get to the bumpers -- (indiscernible) -- all the way around.
DENNY HAMLIN: A lot of it has to do the with fact when you get bumpers sealed together; it creates a false opening (phonetic) on the car in the back, so it's really like a qualifying run for the car in the back. So you get any kind of break from there and you actually make contact, it's almost suction, especially if you have a radiator fan on; it sucks up even more than what it would normally. It's just kind of something that you learn over the course of time. Yesterday I was able to do the same thing and take a car that was running 24th, whoever was in front of me, pushed them passed the 23 cars out front and it was enough to figure out ways to keep it looked in there.

Q. I hoped you would be able to answer also and put it in perspective for you, these are tracks are not the easiest ones to master, and you seem to do very well at these tracks; can you talk about is that?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I've loved restrictor plate racing since the first time I came to Talladega, I loved it. The bumping, it's tough; because of the good result today, you can finish 20th in a heartbeat for 30th. It's pretty exciting because it takes a lot of strategy and you always have to learn to pick the right lane, and when you pick the lane, you make sure you get enough shock (ph) to make sure the line moves, and the problem is there's people that you bump when they brake because they don't want to -- and they break and the cars behind had enough momentum that you start sucking up and it's pretty hard

Q. What do you think would have happened if the yellow had not happened on the last lap?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Ask Denny, he's the guy behind me. It was.
DENNY HAMLIN: The winner --
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It was up to him.
DENNY HAMLIN: I probably would have shut him in.
Depends if the 18 was going to block him; it definitely was going to push Juan beside the 18, and if those two bogged each other down enough, I would try to get by and go for the win.
If he stayed, I was going to have stay on his bumper.
If he moved to block the bumper, then I was going to make a three-wide.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: You never know what's going to happen, and as for me, I got a four and hopefully I got enough shock from the 11 to get behind the 18, and from there just pray that you get enough momentum.

Q. I have a two-part question. First off, were you concerned when you saw Read's engine go four laps in and can you explain what happened on the last lap? It looked like you and Stremme were together and looked like you were straighted (ph) and he crashed in the final lap; can you talk about both of those?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don't know, I was a couple places behind him in the last restart and I'm not sure whether it was in front or behind, and I know the 24 came with a hell of a run, and, you know, I tried to block them, kind of slow them down a little bit.
And I caught a bit of momentum and when they all came down, it worked, and it's just one of those things; it's pure luck. I picked the right lane and it worked out. It's frustrating to see the 40 get a bad result after seeing how good they run all day.

Q. For fans that are not restrictor race fans, can you talk about how exciting the race was, and would you say this is the best race we've had this year overall?
DENNY HAMLIN: For sure it's the best race we've had. Daytona was really good, too, just looking back and watching it, it looked really good there at the end and you know, at times, this race kind of had the complexion like it had over the last three races and just kind of single file and everyone is just kind of, you know, taking their time, didn't want to do anything crazy till the end.
But I mean, every time you come to super speedway racing, it seems like it's with 25 to go, just really kind of busting loose and it gets kind of crazy.
I thought the race was still really good up to that point.
There was a lot of exchanges for the lead between myself and the 20 and the 88 and those guys, and you know, I thought it was a great race, I think this package is really right where it needs to be for a super speedway, so I really commend NASCAR with all of the adjustments they made to this car for super speedway racing.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Same thing, he said everything that you know, I know it took a bit of horsepower. But I think it made the race a lot better, a lot closer, and you didn't see what you saw before that with four laps to go, a group of cars came from behind and won the race.
You know, you had to be in position.
It took quite a few laps, if you fell back, to get all the way back to the track.

Q. If you could tell us what kind of difference it made working with Jimmy instead of Donny and Denny; I wanted to know if it was a situation at the end, was it a situation or the fact that Kyle is one of your teammates --
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think here the difference between Donny and Jimmy -- I don't think there's any difference. We were always in the right place at the right time today, and you know, I don't think Donny would have done anything different.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, definitely circumstances, because ultimately, would I have backlash if I would have pushed Juan into the wind? Absolutely, but that's just part of it. He had a teammate up there one time and I'm sure he wasn't going to let -- he wasn't going to push the 18 by him.
So I mean, it's just all circumstantial.
I think my move probably would have been the same. If it wasn't a teammate, I probably would have pushed Juan out to the outside if the guy stayed on the inside simply because we worked really well to stay together.
My car really stayed tucked up on the 42 really good.
I was going to go for the win myself if the door opened that last probably 200 yards.

Q. What do you feel like went wrong on the restart and the first pit stop, Kyle picked his pit box -- (inaudible) -- do you know of that situation?
DENNY HAMLIN: I didn't even know about it. But -- what was your first question? Oh, yeah, it was like 20 to go.
I think we just got too far out there.
I think on the 12, and those guys, they just had a huge run.
They were going to have to either slam into me or make a move to pass me.
So even if they wanted to work with me, they really had no choice and they had such a scene and decided to blow by me, and when you're five or six cars back, you don't want to have to slow down and help the car that's going ten miles an hour slower. So I got shuffled back to 20th or so, so we just gouged our way back up to third to catch up.
THE MODERATOR: Good racing today, appreciate it. See you in Richmond.



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