NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Quaker State 400
Topics: Quaker State 400
June 30, 2012
THE MODERATOR: For tonight's second annual Quaker State 400. Joining us right now is Kasey Kahne. Kasey drove the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Kasey, coming on strong there at the end. I know you wanted to get that win. But talk about your run this evening.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, it would have been great to win in the Quaker State car. But we had a really good Quaker State Chevy throughout the whole race. Yesterday in practice I was worried, and Kenny Francis and Keith Rodden made some really good adjustments. We felt like our teammates were pretty good. So we looked at some of the things they were doing. And it's nice to have as good of teammates as we had. So we were able to put a nice package in the car and it worked really well. We got a lap behind there with the loose right front, and then we had another slow stop later. The pit crew is really good at times and they're solid. We've got to keep working on it and got to be a little stronger throughout. But my car was fast. And I think the longer the run went, the better we seemed to get. The better I could move around on the racetrack anyways.
THE MODERATOR: Joining us now is Denny Hamlin, and he drove tonight the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota. Denny, talk about your run out here this evening.
DENNY HAMLIN: We had a good run. Our car was pretty good through the middle stages of the race. We lost the lead with 70 to go or so. It seemed we had to go into fuel save mode and our car started going back towards the lead. And we came in and once we did that pit stop, we made a charge to the front. But we knew we had to save fuel the entire last run. There was nothing I could do. As much as I wanted to keep the 2 honest and run him hard, I had to run a certain pace, and that's all I was allowed to do if we were going to make it to the end.
So kind of anticlimactic for our day. We try to spend all day working on your car, and you can't run it to its full potential. So that part of it is a little frustrating.
Q. Kasey, you finished well, the whole Hendrick team finished well. How encouraging is that for you knowing that you had to run pretty much every weekend to make the Chase is a top 5 finish good this season?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, top 5's good, probably not going to get us in the Chase. We need to win a race or two more to make the Chase. But to see how well the Hendrick cars are right now, I mean, it's great to see. Great to be part of that. All of the guys should be really happy because they've prepared us some pretty nice cars and our engines run great. It is nice to be part of that organization.
THE MODERATOR: Denny Hamlin has moved up to fifth in the points.
Q. For either one of you or both of you, which part of the track was working the best? It looked like some cars were running high while others stayed low?
KASEY KAHNE: For me, I had to run the bottom, and as soon as I'd get off the bottom I'd just slide, a four wheel slide. I couldn't make it work. I kept trying outside, but later on I was able to make a little speed on the outside corners, both ends, and could still run the bottom pretty well. But for probably the first half of the run, I had to be on the bottom.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, same thing. You just kind of move around wherever your car seems to work. The tires just didn't drop off like you would hope that they would. I think that Goodyear needs to re-evaluate the tire that they have here and get us something softer so it falls off so there is more passing. Because right now during green flag runs, it's just you catch someone, and it's very, very hard. We ran left side tires for, gosh, almost probably a hundred laps on lefts, and it's still just nowhere. I talked to Goodyear, and they said they were going to come back, so we should have some better racing when we come back here.
Q. Denny, you said you were a little disappointed with how your car finished tonight, but still you had a Top 5 run and got a new deal to boot. What kind of a day for you has it been in general?
DENNY HAMLIN: A great day. When you know you're locked in and know you're going to race where you're going to race for a really long time, and honest people at Joe Gibbs Racing and FedEx have your back a long time, it's a good feeling.
We're really blessed to have the partnership that we all have the championship winning team, and a team that's capable of winning a championship. That's all I can ask for. So it's up to us to get that done from here on out. Now that it's all settled, it's just been a good day, and you can breathe easily.
Q. Kasey, did you think all along that you could catch Brad or was there a stage that you thought boy he's making good time?
KASEY KAHNE: I just hoped he'd run out of gas. There was no way I was catching him. We had enough gas to run as hard as I could all the way to the finish, and I was hoping his would shut off, off of two or something.
Q. Denny, has the FedEx team done as well, and if so, how many years is that for you?
DENNY HAMLIN: I don't know about theirs in particular. I just know about mine. But it's a long time.
Q. Is the FedEx deal part of the contract signed or just your contract with Joe Gibbs?
DENNY HAMLIN: Mine with Gibbs? I really don't know where FedEx stands with Gibbs. But I think that they're talking. So they should‑‑ everything should be done. Me, FedEx and Joe Gibbs, hopefully will all be together for a really long time.
Q. Denny, last year you were pretty outspoken about some of the track problems and some logistical problem that's surrounded this race. How happy were you to see this go a lot better?
DENNY HAMLIN: I mean, you're 50‑50. Traffic problems mean crowd problems, so I don't think that they had as many people here this time around, which is understandable. The heat probably deterred some, but still a very solid crowd out here tonight. It's good. Any improvement that they can make to the facility is going to be better. I know they've put a lot of effort into the traffic issues and spent a lot of money working on it. So truth be told, it's going to be told tonight. In these next three hours, just seeing how it flows out.
Q. The only thing we knew about was the loose wheel. But on the post-race it was referred to problems on pit road. What happened?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't know what the other one was. We came in with a group of cars, and went out and I couldn't see that group. They went full straightaway and that the next corner. And we were sitting there on the jacks for a while. I'm not sure what happened, but there were two stops that just slowed us up. Like I said, my pit crew is solid. They're a really good group of guys that work as hard as anyone, probably harder than everyone or most. We just had a couple of bad stops. The runs we're going and things, I'm sure losing a ton of time on pit road, you'll never catch up.
Q. Brad was one of the guys that said the sway bar rules changes would be a game changer. So I don't know what he'll say when he comes in here, but I'm curious if you thought it impacted what you were doing in your races?
DENNY HAMLIN: It didn't impact us, maybe them.
KASEY KAHNE: I felt pretty good tonight.
Q. All the Hendrick cars were running well, and the Gibbs cars were running well early. It seems like Kyle Busch has been snake bit lately and Joey ran into a problem too. How frustrating is that to see your teammates are struggling?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, you know it's tough: You want everyone running up front as much as possible, because that is more information you can use when they do have problems and things like that. Can you pretty much throwaway all that data from that point on. But it's tough. They're all having their separate issues and things that are going on, and engine stuff, and wrecks and things like that. So it's very frustrating. But law of averages should all work out. We had a really good run at the beginning of the season, and two straight DNFs. I think everything kind of works out in cycles, and those guys are just in a bad one right now.
I'm not sure what happened to Kyle. It looked like he ran out of gas off turn two. I saw him shaking his car. Once you get back in traffic here, can you have the best car in the world, and you're just not going to make up any ground. You'll pass one or two cars, but you're not just going to charge to the front like you would at other racetracks.
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