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November 9, 2014
KERRY THARP:Â Congratulations to each and every one of you, tremendous effort, not only today but throughout the season.Â Well deserved.Â Denny Hamlin is the driver of the No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota over at Joe Gibbs Racing.Â Joey Logano is the driver of the No.22 Shell Pennzoil Ford for Team Penske, and Ryan Newman is the driver of the No.31 Cat Mining Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
Congratulations to each and every one of you.Â Denny, you were the pole sitter for this race today.Â You had some issues there early in the race.Â I believe you broke a valve stem on the tire, got behind, you had to claw, you had to scratch, you had to do everything you could to get back up in there.Â Talk about your run today.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Yeah, it was eventful for sure, but there never was any panic.Â We just kept working on it and getting our car better.Â Probably our saving grace was we definitely didn't have that strong of a car today but we had a strong car on restarts, and that kind of allowed us to be aggressive and pick up a handful of spots and then a caution would come out, we'd pit, get a little bit better tires, then the guys that stayed out would make up a few more spots, and next thing you know we ended up finishing in the top 5 somehow, some way.Â No clue how it happened.Â It was a battle.Â You know, it says something that we were able to come back from a lap down twice, and this track is just so hard to pass on that we were able to get the lucky dogs at the right time and capitalize.
KERRY THARP:Â Joey Logano, you had some issues there on pit road.Â I believe you took off and you had a fuel tank still attached to your car and got penalized and had to come back in for a stop and go.Â You got back in the field.Â I believe you were a lap down at one time.Â How in the world did you get back up in there to be able to now race for the championship at Homestead‑Miami?
JOEY LOGANO:Â I think Denny and I had the exact same day out there.Â Both of us had a little issue on pit road and got stuck back there, went down a lap, we recovered and we finished fifth and sixth.Â We really kept our cool throughout the day.Â I think that was important.Â We were able to get the lucky dog, then had some damage avoiding the 18's crash, was able to fix that and recover again to get ourselves back in.
Definitely a drama‑filled day for sure, not what we wanted.Â We were hoping for just a normal, uneventful day to just get a nice top 10 is all we needed, which we ended up doing, but it was definitely eventful along the way.Â Proud of my team, proud of everyone to get us to this point, and we'll have some fun next week, go for a championship.
KERRY THARP:Â Ryan Newman, your first year over at Richard Childress Racing.Â You've been there each and every week, and you waited there until the very end to get yourself into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.Â What was your thought process throughout the day, and how fast was your heart beating that last restart and the last few laps there?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â Yeah, we were on some of the oldest tires I think there towards the end.Â I knew at one point there that both Joey and Denny were struggling a little bit when they were getting their laps back, which you never really know how good their cars are and you never know when the strategy is going to turn on you.Â It did exactly that.Â Those guys took two tires and we took four.Â They were better on restarts than we were and we got shuffled back and next thing you know we're the odd guy out.
Just so proud of these guys, everybody, for fighting back, Luke Lambert, everybody at RCR and ECR, this Caterpillar team, they fight hard, there's no doubt about that.Â I guess the only mistake I made all day was showing these guys what I'll do on the last lap for when everything is on the line.
I think if Kyle Larson was in my shoes, he'd have done the exact same thing.Â I didn't take him out.Â He still finished the race albeit, but I think in a day or two he'll understand, if he doesn't now.
It's hard to rationalize that, but like I said, I did what I had to do and tried to keep it as clean as I possibly could.Â I don't like racing that way, but there's a lot on the line here, and we'll keep digging.
Q.Â Ryan, can you kind of describe what was going on there because he wasn't the first person, and it wasn't‑‑ there were other cases where people were banging you in the closing laps, as well.Â Can you kind of describe what it was like in the back?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â I mean, everybody raced hard.Â I didn't see anybody giving anybody anything.Â That's what we're supposed to do.Â There's guys that could have backed off and not stuck it in there three wide on a restart or whatever, but everybody raced hard and everybody raced clean.Â We got beat around a little bit here and there, and we did our own beating around a little bit, but that's part of racing at Phoenix.Â That's part of the crazy restarts.Â That's part of the intensity of this Chase.Â It's racing, man.Â That's what we're kind of supposed to do.Â A little disappointing nobody was fighting‑‑ was anybody fighting or what happened?
KERRY THARP:Â Not this week.
RYAN NEWMAN:Â Man.
Q.Â This is for Joey and for Denny.Â Kind of the same question:Â During the course of the race when people follow along from the outside looking in, there were times when probably your fans and others thought, their day is done, they're never going to make it back, and then both of you ended up making it not only finishing well but advancing.Â What is it like in the car?Â How frustrating does it get or how difficult is it to stay focused on still trying to maintain getting a good outcome even when it doesn't look so good?
JOEY LOGANO:Â It's very difficult, but if you look at the past years, that's what won championships, and it still does now.Â It may not win the championship next weekend, but it gets you to that point.Â The last couple weeks we had a couple days that we had to be like that, and we were able to recover and get something decent out of it.
But just like in the past, you try to minimize the damage, and to do that, that's very hard.Â It's something that I know for years I wasn't good at and was able to kind of learn and figure it out, slowly but surely, and you've got to have a team behind you that can do that, too.Â It's not just the driver rallying back.Â That's everyone keeping their heads together and not imploding from the inside.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â You know, that's why I try to tell all of you guys, a long time ago, you can't deem a favorite and an underdog because things happen that change throughout the entire day.Â I mean, you know, these races just don't go green from the start to the end and the fastest cars are always up front.Â We didn't have a top 5 car today, but through strategy and things like that, we got up to the top 5.Â It's no different if this was going to be a one‑race take‑all championship next week.Â The fastest car‑‑ I'd say it's a 50/50 shot that the fastest car of the four of us isn't going to win, just because of circumstances.Â Things happen.
Today we knock a valve stem off after pitting and coming out third, so it's just those things happen.Â It happened to Harvick not too long ago, so it's the unknowns.Â These races just don't‑‑ they don't give trophies out for who's the favorite and who's got fast cars.Â You have to execute, and you have to go through the due process of running 300 or 400 miles, and next week is going to be no exception.Â It's going to be whoever executes a flawless day is going to be the champion.
Q.Â Joey, obviously you made the Chase last year but you've never been in this kind of late‑season pressure cooker before.Â How did you keep your composure today and stay focused on the task at hand given your kind of lack of experience in this kind of situation?
JOEY LOGANO:Â I don't know.Â You pretty much‑‑ I drink Coca‑Cola.Â Hey, all three Coke drivers are right here.Â Three of them, so that's pretty cool.Â Odds are decent for a Coke driver to win this thing.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Will you share the money?Â We're family.
JOEY LOGANO:Â Sure, I'm just a giver.Â It's charity money, we're giving it away anyway.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â No, the championship money.
JOEY LOGANO:Â No, I'm keeping that.
But no, it definitely‑‑ I'm trying to remember now.Â It's the pressure cooker, and it's hard to deal with it, but at the same time we've just done what we've done all year, and there's no point of changing it.Â Todd said to me, he goes, you know, don't reinvent the wheel at this point, you just polish the wheel a little bit and just become a little better in every area.Â That's what we've been able to do throughout the last couple years since we started working together and it's paying off.Â It's been a fun ride so far.
Q.Â Denny, you've talked several times about wanting to get back to Homestead and have that opportunity.Â Well, you've got the opportunity.Â What are your thoughts?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â I feel pretty optimistic.Â I thought we had a great test there, and obviously no one saw that win coming last year in 2013.Â We were a lot less competitive at the end of last year, and we popped up and won that race.
It's just a track that suits me for some reason.Â You know, it's wide, tires wear out, and you get to really ‑‑ if your car is working well ‑‑ you can make up positions there.Â Track position is not crazy critical like it is at this racetrack.Â Love it, love the opportunity.Â We're on house money now, so let's go have fun.
Q.Â Denny, have you ever had an air gun knock a valve stem off before, and was it kind of poetic justice that the pit crew got you three extra spots on that last stop even though five cars stayed out?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Yeah, I mean, they're probably the reason that we're in this position anyway.Â I've been riding their coattails for most of the year.Â What they do for me on pit road, and obviously law of averages, every now and then, that stone is going to hit you, and it hit you that first pit stop, and luckily it was the first one.Â If it was later in the day, we were not going to overcome it.
But you know, yeah, it's crazy that that mistake is what put us back there, but they made up for it tenfold throughout the entire day with great stops.
You know, it's great to have them on your side knowing that you've got the fastest pit crew on pit lane going into a one‑race shootout.Â I like my chances.
Q.Â Ryan, from the time that you were told you needed to get one more spot, have you ever driven a car that hard in your life before?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â Oh, yeah, absolutely.Â Going back to my quarter midget days and midget and sprint car and Silver Crown days, we got lots of laps.Â We've driven hard at other times.Â That was everything I had and then a little bit more.Â I told these two up here, that's the first time I've actually complimented a racetrack after a repave because before that was not enough asphalt down there to be able to do that.Â It was grass.
Q.Â Ryan, at some stage of the race, the gap to the guys in front of you became bigger, then shorter.Â At one point in the race did you try to conserve fuel or tires?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â No, I was never conserving anything.Â We had a pretty good run there in the middle of the race, and we were actually kind of keeping the guys in check.Â I never knew that the 11 and the 22 were having their struggles.Â I saw the 24 and the 20 in front of me, and that was part of the race that I needed to keep in check.Â The other part was just a bonus at that time.Â And then everything flip‑flopped when they took four and they took two and we lost some of our track position.Â We were just never able to get it back.Â There was never a point where I was riding, no.
The only part I think where any of us rode today was when we couldn't see getting into Turn 1 and you were better off letting off early than you were driving down in there.
Q.Â Ryan, they told you you need to get one spot anyway you can basically‑‑
RYAN NEWMAN:Â They left that part out.Â They just said, one spot.
Q.Â But you ended up doing it anyway you could.Â If you don't do that, can you live with yourself not making that move that you did?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â I mean, it's not‑‑ I mean, yeah, I could live with myself.Â Would I be happy with myself, no, because you've got to give it your all.Â That one spot paid off today, but that one spot could have been three or four spots on a restart in Texas last week.Â It's like we're the sum of everything we put into this, and today we were just enough.
Q.Â Ryan, as that last lap is unfolding at the beginning of the lap, is there such a thing as a Plan B?Â Did you envision it unfolding the way it did, or did you have a thought you might be able to do something else?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â No, I tried to get the best run I could off of Turn 2, and I had one of the best runs I had of the race off of Turn 2 at that point.Â Kyle was right on the 9's rear bumper and when he went into Turn 3, I think he slipped just a little bit, and I just went down to the bottom no matter what.Â I figured if I'm going to try this I'm going to try it and see if it works, and it worked.Â I don't know how much of it was racing luck, but the old adage of eight tires are better than four was definitely true today.
Q.Â Ryan, we heard you talk out there about the incident with Larson at Eldora last year.Â Can you expand on that a little bit?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â It was two years ago.Â He used me up on multiple restarts and literally just used me up and used me as a wall and a cushion to drive around.Â We had fun doing it, don't get me wrong, and today was really no retaliation for that, but to me in my mind it was the fact that he can't be too mad after the way he raced me in a truck at Eldora two years ago.Â (Laughter.
Well, I'm stretching it, but realistically, I overheard these guys saying, man, you've got to do what you've got to do, and that's really what it's all about.Â I told you the first thing, I wasn't proud of what I had to do, but I did it the best way that I possibly could.
Q.Â There's been a lot of debate since the format was introduced that a winless driver could win the championship, and that chorus has kind of grown among fans.Â Now you're the winless driver in the final four.Â Do you care about that or does it matter to you?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â It doesn't matter to me.Â I mean, in the end it really doesn't matter.Â I think Denny kind of said that you could have a fast car, you could have a consistent car, you could have a good long‑run car, and you've got pretty good chances of having a good day at Homestead.Â The fastest car may not win, the best car on a restart may not win.Â You just never know.Â It could come right down to fuel mileage and three of the four of us could be coasting on the last lap.Â You just never know.Â We're in this hunt.Â I'm proud of all my guys, and today was a lot of hard work, and in the end, the last lap was fun.Â But everything before that was pretty stressful.
Q.Â Now that you've been through nine races in this system, would you like to see the same system next year or does it need to be changed in any way?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â Let us get through next weekend first.Â I mean, from my standpoint, the intensity of the sport has gone through the roof.Â You can never make everybody happy.Â I said from the beginning, if I was these guys that had wins after that first bracket and their wins didn't mean anything anymore, I wouldn't be happy.Â But I wasn't one of those guys.Â It's mathematically, it played in my favor all the way through.Â That doesn't mean I'm going to be a champion, it's just means the system was made like that.Â Can it be manipulated?Â Absolutely.Â Can we give more points for wins?Â Can we give more points for leading laps?Â Absolutely.Â Can we give points for qualifying?Â I said that 10 years ago.Â In the end it is what it is, and we all had an opportunity in Daytona to start our Chase for the championship, and now four of us have a chance this coming weekend.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â The people that outcry this system is bad is when their favorite driver doesn't make it.Â The system is fine.Â It's exciting.Â Every race is exciting.Â There's not been one boring race, and every race, it comes down to somebody on a restart or something.Â This is the best thing that's happened to this sport in a really long time.Â Just because your favorite driver don't make it, it could go the other way for them next year.Â Let's just leave this thing alone for a little while.
Q.Â Ryan, there's no statute of limitations on things that happen‑‑
RYAN NEWMAN:Â I still know Joey from 2008, 2009, whatever it is.
Q.Â So the answer is no?
JOEY LOGANO:Â I thought we were even after that.
Q.Â As long as you can remember it‑‑
RYAN NEWMAN:Â I'm playing Harvick.Â I'm going to start the fight.
Q.Â You just don't forget at some point in time?Â You just keep it in the back of your mind forever?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â I mean, self‑policing garage.Â It all works out.
RYAN NEWMAN:Â There is no statute of limitations on anything.Â A driver never forgets.Â Jimmy Spencer coined the phrase, but really, a driver never does forget.Â I don't think me doing what I did, whether it was Kyle Larson or Ambrose or Biffle or whoever was right there around me, I would have been the same thing.Â That's just my rationale to justify it in my head.
Q.Â Joey, when Kyle and Clint had their incident and it looked like you tagged, you got the wheel rub contact with Danica, could you feel that in the car?Â It sounded like the guys on the pit box and your spotters were diagnosing it.
JOEY LOGANO:Â Yeah, as I was turning down to miss the 18, the 10 was there and we banged doors fairly hard, but it didn't knock the toe out or anything like that, so it was just fender rubs.Â We had that red flag to talk about it a little bit, which is always nice to kind of calm down and get a game plan for when the pits open.Â All we needed to do was pull some fenders out and keep it from rubbing, and get to racing again.
Q.Â Ryan, it's been 20 years since RCR won a championship with Dale Sr.Â This is your first year driving for him.Â What would that mean to you?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â Well, it would mean a lot to me, regardless of history.Â For me personally, just to have this opportunity, I know these guys can sit here and say the same thing, this is a chance for a dream to come true.Â Correct me if I'm wrong, but out of the four of us, nobody has ever won a Cup championship going into this next round, so we'll have a new Sprint Cup Series champion next weekend.Â That's a chance for a dream to come true for one of us and all of us.Â Just to have a shot at it is amazing.Â You know, with respect to RCR and Dale Earnhardt Sr., yeah, if you're going to follow in anybody's footsteps and have some history, that's the man.Â But I won't strap into the race car thinking of that next Sunday, I'll strap into the race car thinking about what we've got to do to get the Caterpillar Chevrolet into victory lane.
Q.Â Back to the payback thing for all you guys, is there a ledger?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â I still owe Joey, Joey owes Denny‑‑
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Joey don't owe me.
Q.Â Should there be like a formal accounting system so everybody can know where everybody stands?
RYAN NEWMAN:Â Will you start it?Â Keep track for us?Â We sometimes get confused and lose track of it.Â The magnification of it changes throughout a race.Â If somebody does you wrong, you're like, man, I really remember now.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Yeah, I think you know who shows you respect through many races.Â A guy cuts you a break here and there, you keep that in your mind, and when he's behind you knocking on your back bumper, then you can let the person go.
It changes.Â When you have conversations, though, when you have bad blood between people, when you have conversations, you hash it out, things don't linger on as much.Â Next week, we're not going to be out there trying to settle scores between the four of us.Â It's going to be what can we do to make our car faster than the rest of these three guys, and let's do it the right way.
KERRY THARP:Â Congratulations to you three, and we'll see you Wednesday at the Doral in Homestead‑Miami.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports