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May 27, 2018

Denny Hamlin

Martin Truex, Jr.

Charlotte, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: Denny Hamlin, driver of the No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota. You were strong all night long but there were some reports that you needed to adjust with some tire strategy. Did that affect your race at all?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, yeah. We came in from damage with the 48, we had to use one extra set of tires, so we were a little bit worried about our tire allotment. We were short on tires, which is hard to believe in the Cup Series. But yeah, we were worried about being short on tires, so we had to stay out one time when we really didn't want to, and then that set us back, and we lost some stage points. But overall we kind of battled back to where I think we should have been.

Q. Denny, we've kind of seen this two of the last three years now, Truex a couple years ago and Kyle tonight. When you have a night where one car is as dominant as Kyle was tonight, is there really anything you can do behind the wheel as he's just getting further in the distance, anything more you can try at that point?
DENNY HAMLIN: Not really. I think we maximized what we had in our car. It was being driven as fast as it could go. But yeah, we really‑‑ that No.1 pit stall kind of saved them a few times. We had such fast pit stops with our team. There was one time we came out right beside him, and I really wanted control of that restart, and it looked like‑‑ they said 18 over 11. So he must have just barely beat me out of the pits, and that maybe would have given him some dirty air to see could he pass. He hadn't really had to pass anyone all day. Their car looked exceptional from my standpoint. They were about a half a tenth faster. That's too much to overcome in the long run, and we didn't have a good enough long run to really run him back down anyway. They just were a tiny bit faster, so we've just got to look at the data and find where we need to gain that speed. Obviously when we download and figure all that out, we'll come back here with a little better package.

Q. Denny, do you think we would have seen a totally different event if NASCAR would have kept the restrictor plates on your cars?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, for sure.

Q. And how different do you feel it would have been?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I thought it would probably look a lot like it would have last week, cars bunched up and things like that. We're not going to be running this oval until next year, I guess. I don't know, the Roval I think was meant to kind of save the racetrack and things like that, but I just‑‑ I'm a bit of a skeptic, and hopefully we put on a good race, but I'm a skeptic right now.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by our second‑place finisher, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No.78 Bass Pro Shops 5‑Hour Energy Toyota. You know first hand what it's like to dominant here. Tell us what it's like to be Kyle in this situation.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It's the best position to be in. I think everybody out there wants to be there. Those guys did an awesome job all night, obviously, with qualifying on the pole, perfect pit stops. I don't think they ever lost a lead any time except for green flag stops without cycling around. They did an incredible job, had a really fast car, and for us, I felt like we‑‑ I felt early on like we were probably second best to him, and then screwed up on pit road, and then we had two pit road penalties in a row. So it was tough to come from the back, but it was one of those nights where we just fought until the end and felt like we had a second‑place car to Kyle. I felt like that last run we were catching him a bit, but he was probably just managing his lead and taking care of his tires. We were just off a little bit tonight but definitely gaining on it, and hopefully we can get some more wins here pretty soon.

Q. Denny and Martin, we're halfway through the regular season now with the 13th race. Do you feel like‑‑ do you like the position you're in, and do you like how you'll be able to attack maybe coming down the stretch before we get to the Playoffs?
DENNY HAMLIN: I don't like‑‑ I mean, could be worse, I guess. But yeah, we're just‑‑ we're third or fourth best every week. That's frustrating. But it could be 35 spots worse. We've just got to‑‑ we just need two or three tenths a lap. It seems like that's kind of what I'm off, and I just can't get the speed out of the car. I was just handling a certain way, and it's just a razor's edge for us. We're either really good or we're average at best. We need to get a little bit better. I think the 78, the 4 and the 18 are all a little bit faster than us, and we're just kind of right there next in line.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I feel okay with where we're at, obviously. We had a tough few weeks there a few weeks back, like four straight bad races, which was tough, so it was hard to see exactly where we stacked up, and now we've had a couple top fives in a row. But hadn't had that winning speed, so we're still off a little bit. I think the 4 was really fast tonight until he had his tire issue. Not sure if some of the speed was‑‑ had caused the tire issue or it was one of those fluke things, but he was definitely really fast before that. And obviously the 18 hit it really good tonight, and they've had a strong season.
I feel like we're in decent shape. Still learning a little bit about the rules this year, the new splitter deal, the last four weeks I feel like has hurt us some and definitely made it more difficult to pass and come through traffic. Tonight was definitely a difficult test because of that, but I thought we were somewhat as fast as Kyle maybe on the short runs, just maybe not the long runs. So we're not too far off, we just need to keep digging.

Q. There at the end we noticed with the green‑flag pit stops that the tires were very important, that you were able to just take down cars in front of you. Do you feel like if the caution had come out there at the end, do you feel like both of you would have had to come down and take tires?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Absolutely.
DENNY HAMLIN: (Nodding.)

Q. You mentioned the 4's tire issues earlier. Given the fact that he started all the way at the back and was able to make that big run up to the top 5, how different of a race do you think it would have been if he would have been able to complete?
DENNY HAMLIN: Like stay up front? Well, you know, I had my opportunities. I started second like five times or something like that, and we just didn't have the speed that the 18 did. He would get clear of us off of Turn 2 and set sail, and he was running kind of right where I would want to run. There's one time off pit road he must have beat me by two inches, and that was a crucial moment that I felt like, man, we need to control this restart and kind of put him in a different spot versus being out front.
But I don't know. I don't know if we would have gained speed by being out front. Most likely. But they just had‑‑ from what I could see, an exceptional car that was a little better than us. I don't think that we could have done anything‑‑ maybe Martin could have.

Q. Denny, despite the result, was this like your best, cleanest race so far this year?
DENNY HAMLIN: What do you mean?

Q. Just error free‑‑
DENNY HAMLIN: No, me and the 48 got‑‑ we were tangled and had to go to the back for that. But no, I did not have any speeding penalties, so it was all good. I knew it was important. I mean, this race pays more points. You've got to‑‑ you can't have those mistakes on pit road. You want to maximize the points day, you can't really have those penalties, and so I erred on the low side going down pit road. We haven't had any in over a month now.

Q. Martin, how uncharacteristic of a day was this for you on pit road, especially you guys had some pit gun issues?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I mean, I thought it was a solid day overall. Got caught speeding once, in one segment. I can't wait to see the time. It couldn't have been much. But I just hit some of those bumps a little bit wrong and got going a little too fast and tapped the brake just a split second too late. I typically don't get a lot of speeding penalties, so Cole won't ride my butt too hard this week about it. Aside from that, the pit gun deal, it was just one of those freak things. It reversed on him when he was hitting the fifth lug nut and he had to manually switch it back, so he lost some time, and then the uncontrolled tire deal. Just one of those nights, but they cleaned it up well and did a good job after that and was solid most every other stop. That's all you can ask for. People make mistakes.

Q. I don't know if anyone has asked you this yet or not, but which racing package do you like better, tonight‑‑

Q. Denny?
DENNY HAMLIN: No comment.

Q. Martin, you slid into second place I think with about 70 laps to go. By the end of the race you had cut your deficit in half. Would you like to have another 70 laps?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don't know. Maybe with a yellow, yes. I don't know if it went green, I just don't know. I think, like I said earlier, I think we were definitely catching him. Seemed like every time we'd pit under green, we were faster for 20 laps. I don't know if that's him taking care of his tires because he had such a big lead, because at the end of the long runs he was faster. If it had went green there's no telling. He may have just maintained that gap. I really have no idea to be honest. At the end of the day, we ran second. He kicked everybody's tail. That's just the way it goes. That's how it is.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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