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October 30, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our runner‑up, Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford for Team Penske. Today he tied his career high at Martinsville with his second runner‑up finish and is the highest finishing non‑Chase driver.
Brad, just talk us through your afternoon.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: It was a good day for us. Not to win... I think we had the speed capable to pull it off, but still a really strong day. Car was good. Team executed really well. Just kind of missed out on the racing gods today.
A lot to be proud of. Great effort. Showed that we're still a strong team, if not the strongest in the garage. Really proud of that.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Brad.
Q. Could you have caught Jimmie with more laps?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yes (smiling). I know what you're thinking. I'm thinking it, too. You can say it, I can't.
We don't need to run a hundred laps under yellow with the field not trying to figure out where they're at. It probably cost us the race.
Q. Is there any disappointment in you ran so well at Talladega, engine blown, run so well here, of what could be right now?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, absolutely. I think we're the best team in the garage. If we're not the best, we're right there. We don't have a shot at winning the championship.
But I think today showed how strong we are and I'm really proud of that.
Q. What about racing, now that you're not eligible, the guys who are still in the Chase? Are you more careful, less careful? What does it matter to you when you're carving your way through guys who are still in the Chase?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I mean, honestly, I'm kind of here to win. I think we got a great shot at doing that here, as you can tell today.
Yeah, I don't care about this format, so I'll just go out there and try to win. Whatever these guys do, it's still racing at the end of the day. You should be here to win.
Q. Jimmie has won the last four at Texas. If you're him, do you go and try to win again next week to make Phoenix more of a crapshoot for the rest of them?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Absolutely. Yeah, I think he's got a good shot at it. He's got a good team. They're hitting their marks at a really strong level.
Yeah, I think why not. It's what he should do. I can't speak for him on what he will do.
I think the strange part about formats like this is you don't have to, and that seems wrong to me.
THE MODERATOR: Brad, we appreciate you coming in. Good luck next week.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. This is Denny's 12th top‑five finish at Martinsville.
Denny, talk us through your race this afternoon.
DENNY HAMLIN: It was a good day, solid day, but obviously not what we were looking for. Just lost the handle there with about a hundred to go. I think our car fired off, fired off slower or ran slower the entire run than what we had all day. Just missed it there a little bit.
So that's what we had, and that's about all we could muster up at the end, was a third.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Denny.
Q. Did you have a chance to talk to Kyle at all?
DENNY HAMLIN: (Shaking head.)
Q. He seemed a little displeased about how the JGR cars worked together in the final hundred laps. He felt like he and Kenseth were faster than you. Do you have any reaction?
DENNY HAMLIN: I don't think so. Especially when we're racing for third or something like that, we got to do everything we can to get every position.
Really for us, we had a better car in the long run. Really those guys pressured me pretty good I thought for the first 40 to 50 laps of the run, then I thought we separated ourselves fairly well.
So I may have held those guys up for a little bit of that final run, but definitely don't think I was holding anyone up at the end, for sure.
Q. You had another speeding penalty today. Walk us through that.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, it was one section right outside. Typically the way I shift from first to second, leaving my pit box, I usually wind out first gear. With first and second gear being so close together, I was over. I knew when they called it that I sped.
It wasn't like we were just rolling and just rolling too fast. It was just exiting my pit box. I got jammed up there, if I remember right, got jammed up by whoever was pitted in front of me. There was cars coming on the outside, so I was trying to gas to get clear of them, then back off. These shorter sections, I just didn't have time to get it back.
Q. With Jimmie winning now, it's mathematically possible for only three JGR cars to get in. With the way that Martin worked, you seemed to be working well together. At what stage does it become cutthroat that one of you can't go on?
DENNY HAMLIN: That's the tough part of it, for sure. We're in a team business, but we're also in a business to win for our sponsors and ourselves.
I think at the end, you have to do what's best for yourself. We made deals about restarts and things like that. Obviously I think I got two taps or something like that from the 20.
But I definitely didn't feel like we were holding anyone up at the end by any means. I didn't even see the 18 at the end.
But, you know, it's just part of it. We're all frustrated. We had probably the first, second, third fastest cars throughout the day, then we end up three, four, five. It's frustrating for all of us.
Q. You and Jimmie got together a couple times early in the race. You seemed frustrated with him on the radio. Give us your side of that.
DENNY HAMLIN: My side is that he really put us in a bad spot at New Hampshire on a restart for 13th or 15th or something. About wrecked us pretty much. Then so I voiced my displeasure with him after the race. He understood why I was upset.
But in return, you know, I raced him hard for the lead ‑ the lead ‑ which is a big, big difference, at Charlotte. I think that Chad and those guys were frustrated with me and how I was holding those guys up for the lead. But it is the lead.
When we got to here, we were running for seventh middle part of the race. I ran him down from the back of the pack basically. He just wasn't wanting to give up the spot. It was just costing both of us time. It was frustrating both of us. I gave those guys many, many laps to give us the position before I had to move him.
Q. His victory today ensures there will be no JGR sweep for the championship round. Is it somewhat deflating that after the regular season you've had you're not going to get all four cars in? Whoever makes it now has to beat Jimmie at Miami?
DENNY HAMLIN: I think anyone can be beat. I wouldn't deem anyone, you know, better than the rest. I think that any car that makes it in, whether it be points or wins, is going to be tough to beat.
It's not deflating from my standpoint because we still had a very good showing today, I thought. Our cars all ran really, really well throughout the entire day. At one point one, two, three, with Truex four at one point.
I don't think there's anything to hang our heads about. I think it's a tough day for the 19, who blew a tire. But those guys can win any of the next two races.
Q. On the caution for Jimmie, the running order behind you guys, any idea what happened there?
DENNY HAMLIN: I know what happened. We got passed by four cars. That's what's frustrating. I don't know how many cameras are between my car, NBC cameras, but somebody has got to see. Even the pace car driver should see cars are passing that shouldn't be passing.
Hey, savvy move by the 4 and the other guys who decided to do it. I think they caught two of them. There were more that you have to get right. I think the stakes are so high, I really wish we would have red flagged the race, gone, reviewed it and gotten it right. There's a 100% chance it was not right at the end. It changed the running order.
Hopefully that doesn't change what happens going into Homestead. I know that NASCAR is doing everything they can with the scoring they have and things like that. But you have to get it right. It definitely was not right.
Q. Had they red flagged it and you had more laps, is it possibly a different finishing order?
DENNY HAMLIN: I don't know whether it's a different finishing order, to be honest with you. I thought the 48 was better from lap one of the last restart to the very end. I don't think I could have held him off, no matter what.
It didn't have anything to do with us. I mean, I never would have thought to try to pull that move to where you just pass the leader and hopefully they don't see it. But, hey, kudos to those guys. They got one for sure.
You know, you have to get it right. We're in a big‑time sport. There's no way you can't find it on tape. There was a running order. There was a running order posted as soon as the caution came out, before everyone pitted. There was a running order. Even after everyone pitted. Those care were all behind me because I stayed out. I just came off pit road.
They have an order, but somehow it got all messed up. We'll come up with a better way to make sure it's right in the future.
Q. Considering the way the day started for you, are you relieved things came out as good as they did today?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I thought it was a great start of my day, for sure, getting wiped out on the golf cart, my car falling off the jack.
Eventually the odds are that you're going to have something go smooth. I thought as soon as we had that speeding penalty at the beginning, I knew I put ourselves back in a hole again. I knew patience is what we needed to exercise there. We got through the pack clean, which was good. There were a few close calls.
But it was a tough start to the day, great middle, and blah ending.
Q. What happened on the golf cart?
DENNY HAMLIN: The tractor that pulls the trailer onto the track just wiped us out. I mean, I jumped off the cart because I saw it was coming. The other guys stayed on and was going to take a ride. It cleaned us out pretty good.
Q. Tipped over?
DENNY HAMLIN: No, it just destroyed it, yeah. Ever seen, like, Big Foot and those cars they set up for him to jump over? We were the car. I saw it coming, jumped out of the cart. Clay Campbell is going to get a bill (smiling).
Q. Earlier this weekend we were talking about the weather conditions, how that would impact the number of lines. Did that come into play? And then conditions heat‑wise for this time of year?
DENNY HAMLIN: It played a factor. I thought that the groove was wider today than what it had been in the past. I thought you could see the 48 and those guys, they were running up probably half a car length or so off the bottom. I think that has to do with rubber being put down on the racetrack.
I think NASCAR has a good tire coming back here in the spring. They tire tested and found a tire that lays rubber. Any time you have a tire that lays rubber it always makes for better racing.
Regardless of the way they're going forward, we're going to have racing like this.
Q. I was talking to Joe out on the grid. He said if his drivers have problems with one another, he lets them work it out.
DENNY HAMLIN: That ain't true. He gets right in the middle (laughter).
Q. Is there anything you have to do with Kyle or anybody or do you just go on?
DENNY HAMLIN: I had no idea why anyone was mad at me, to be honest with you. If somebody is mad at me, honestly I don't know why. I literally thought I held our line up for 30 to 40 laps.
None of us were going to get the 48. That's real. That's real talk there. Nobody was on my rear bumper at the end of the race. I think I had six car lengths to the 20 and more back to the 18, so...
Someone's upset, I think it's just 'cause we all had a top‑three car during the end of the race and we ended up three, four, five. That's never happy.
THE MODERATOR: Denny, thank you. Good luck at Texas.
DENNY HAMLIN: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports