NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Pepsi 500
Topics: Pepsi 500
August 31, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Denny Hamlin, our third place finisher, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota. Denny, tell us about your run.
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, we had a good run. It's definitely what we needed. We needed to come out of here with a Top-5 finish and beat the guys that we were racing in the points. Definitely this is a good finish for us.
We had a Top-5 car really from the get-go, and it's pretty rare that you can have a car that's as consistent from the day to the night. So just it was a good run for us, that's what we needed. We're not locked in but we are definitely getting closer.
Q. With Jimmie winning, certainly this has been a year of Kyle and Carl, and Jimmie is third in the victory total; those three guys have combined for about 70 percent of the wins. Is it surprising to see such domination by only a few guys or is it because of this car and most people can't figure it out?
DENNY HAMLIN: It's definitely the race car. This race car puts you in such a tight box of what you can work on. You basically run the same setup everywhere you go.
So when a guy gets an advantage like the 99 have and 18 have and now the 48 has definitely caught up, it just makes it that more magnified when we come to a big racetrack like that how good their car is.
Q. (No mic).
DENNY HAMLIN: There is, simply because in the case, you've got a lot of short tracks, and you have the Super Speedway. There's plenty of racetracks where you can make up ground on those guys. But obviously the way they are running right now, if you don't finish in the Top 3 every week, you're not going to win the championship. They have to put ten solid weeks together, and we have to do the same if we make it.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford. Tell us about your run.
GREG BIFFLE: This is a great night for us, the best night we've had all season, except for Darlington as far as car-wise goes. The car was really, really good. Drove excellent, pit stops, man, I don't even know what to say. I beat everybody out every time. I just never had that happen before. They have been working on the pit crew and shifting guys around, and it was pretty spectacular tonight. I hope that we can continue that in the Chase.
But just real happy to give myself a spot in the Chase this year, and you know, just 48 was a little bit faster than we were. I should have moved up top earlier, and tried to perfect that line a little bit better. I don't usually run that line but I went up there at the end of the race and started running him down. And then I almost crashed coming off of turn two and saw that I had to go back to the bottom and got greedy and tried it again and almost made another mistake. So I just decided to just get back to the bottom and finish out the night.
But you know, wish we could have been a little bit -- a little bit faster. They are just beating us. He's beating me three and four mostly. I think everybody is beating me down there just a little bit.
Q. Greg, going from May, Darlington to now, the transformation your team has made, second place tonight, still looking for the victory; how far away from that are you?
GREG BIFFLE: They have done a great job. We have gotten way better as an organization, as a team, the 16 has. Thanks to Robbie Reiser, they made a commitment at the beginning of the year to shift some guys around, the teams that were going to be in the Chase, and put our best teams together that we can.
And that's what they have done, and it's made an unbelievable difference. Man, I couldn't even imagine it being, you know, someplace like Richmond or Martinsville or someplace like that where beating one or two cars out each time you pit and you pit 12 or 15 times, how that could be; I'm real excited about it.
Q. How much more comfortable do you feel about getting into the Chase?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, a lot more comfortable, but I think it's 90 points up on those guys. You're still not comfortable. Anything can happen at Richmond, and we led every lap it seemed like there in the spring and ended up finishing 28th or something. So you never know what can happen. I wish I had probably A 130-point lead, that way you know you pretty much lock yourself in when you have a buffer like that.
But you know, nothing says that bad luck can't trying and if they do, those guys are ready to bounce, because they are running good. They are running Top 15 each week, so I'm definitely comfortable though. I think on-track performance, we should be fine, and just as long as we run a good, conservative race, we'll have our spot again.
Q. With your performance is there a level of frustration that you're not able to catch the 48, or just the team is good enough to override that?
GREG BIFFLE: It's always frustrating no matter who or when you get beat.
Inside we're so competitive and we want to win. My guys have done such a great job on pit road it was kind of a little bit of extra adrenaline. I just could not -- I drove as hard as I've driven in a long time, and you know, I was just on the edge. I was running him down. I got within, probably ten car lengths of him and was catching him 2/10ths of a lap. He would get better as the run went, anyway, you know. I just thought maybe if I got close enough could I make him start thinking about what's behind him, and he was, because he went to the top and I caught him a bunch, and then he went back to the bottom, which he wasn't as good at on the long runs.
So he was protecting his spot, and that's what I needed him to do was switch up his -- what he was trying to do. I just had not run up top down there, and I did the one lap and I got a great run and I was right in the right spot. You know, the car gets in those grooves and it will jerk the front end or it's kind of sliding the nose and then it turns and gets loose and you have to come out of the gas.
But I got a perfect run off the corner and caught him a bunch and the next time, I just didn't have that top perfected.
It makes me frustrated that I didn't go up there earlier in the race when it didn't matter and work on where to run, you know, so that maybe I could have put some more pressure on him. He's beating me still bad down here or beating me by a car or two every time. I could gain three here and lose two, gain three and lose two. I didn't know that I was going to be able to do anything when I got there.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Congratulations.
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