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August 12, 2007

Denny Hamlin

Jimmie Johnson


THE MODERATOR: In the media center, those that are upstairs, we have our first driver in here. If you want to talk to Jimmie Johnson, our third place finisher, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, please come down. We're going to go ahead and get started with Jimmie.
Jimmie, take us through that race. A lot of twists and turns, a lot of drama, your thoughts.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's certainly a solid day for the Lowe's team. We were pretty nervous a couple of times with the fuel strategy. I don't think we got the best mileage, but we still needed a lot of those cautions and fortunately we got them because we couldn't afford to not be on the same strategy as everybody we were racing with for the lead.
So to get through that and have the strategy kind of work out for us and not have it be a fuel (indiscernible) on top of that, it had a competitive car and tried to stay smart throughout the day and at the end had something to race with and got in some positions on my own and guys made some mistakes late to help get us into the Top 3.

Q. You had the incident with Juan, how much does it mean to come back from that and get a Top 3 after the some of the bad luck you had in July and August so far?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it is nice to come back. I have to admit, when he dumped me, I was furious. Here we are minding our business, running along out there, and the guy never gets inside of me and just runs me over to get position. And it's unfortunate they get his chance to run well on this road course and takes advantage of it and starts laying the bumper to everybody.
We've got a long season left and next week we'll see him on the track but it's just frustrating to be smart all day long, have somebody run you over from behind, and luckily we recovered from that.

Q. Just your take on so many guys, unforced errors, is that a product of the new cars and the level of difficulty of driving them?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think it's a couple of things. That might be part of it. And it probably does put more cars up front and capable of running for the win, so I do agree with that. But I think a lot of drivers and a lot of teams have been working hard on the road course races, racing, in general, I should say, and you've got a lot of good drivers and a lot of good teams. We're all running the same speed so when you see a small bubble from someone, you've got to pounce on it. When you have fresh tires or cold brakes, you've got to make the move to get in position, and I think that's just because the level of competition is getting closer and closer between the Top 10.
THE MODERATOR: We have our race runner-up, Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Chevrolet. Your thoughts about how things unfolded out there today.
DENNY HAMLIN: It was a good race for us. You know, you start thinking about ways you could have won the race, and, you know, I had Jeff at a pretty vulnerable situation there and on one restart, I felt like I had to be a little more aggressive, I could have got around them. And then, of course, I felt like after that, we could have checked out because we could reel those guys back in after a long run. It just took a little while to get going.
So, you know, when I did that, I opened up the door for Tony and let him pass me and that was kind of the move that won him the race I think. I definitely think it's a strong run for our team. This definitely exceeds expectations we had going into this weekend so it's still a great run for both the 11 and 20.

Q. It seemed like a wild race out there for you, you had a couple of moments with your teammate, Tony, in the inner loop off of 9 and you had a moment there with Carl in the inner loop. Can you run through those experiences and what those were like for you?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I mean, it was an exciting race. It seems like when you try to charge the corner like I was trying to do, and some other guys trying to pass, guys were really, you know, blowing their position and trying to stay in the cleanest air possible. So you had to charge the corner harder than them and when you do you get behind on your shifting and behind on your breaking and kind of leaves you with a situation of you're going to take yourself out and the other guy or you're going to have to cut the inner loop a little short. So I had to do that twice to avoid controversy or incident, and so we did what we had to do. I felt like it was a real exciting race, or it should have been for the fans, anyway.

Q. Just wanted to get your reaction, when you saw the cars you were trying to chase back down, one by one, they were off the track, just your reaction when your driving past them and see them just stranded there.
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I almost did the same thing Jeff did on the exact same lap. Luckily I had enough racetrack to catch up to it but it's so easy to do here, I kept front braking that car all day long because the rear wheels were just hot. I think it's just a product of this race car now until we get everything ironed out that it's going to be tough to fix that. So, you know, it's just so easy too do and I know Jeff was pressing as hard as could he to try to keep the 20 behind him and just got himself in trouble there.

Q. This is one of your best finishes on the road course, talk to me about how your car drove and how you like driving on the road course today.
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, road courses are a lot of fun for me. I've had a lot of success in the bush car, but you know, we run really well in the cup series cars every single road course, we just seemed to get too far behind at the get-go, and it takes us the whole race to get back to the front. I just, this is one race where it was kind of incident free for us. We didn't really are any problems, and pit strategy went our way.
Road course racing is fun, it's just frustrating at times when guys get better fuel mileage than you and ends up cheating a win out of you. That didn't really happen today. You had the best three or four cars at the end were up front and that's what racing is all about.
Q What was it like after the last restart with Tony, did you work together?
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, we were trying to work together. I went over his radio a few times and asked him not to dive up behind me on the first corner because it was going to ends up costing me a lot of positions. I had Jeff in my sights with that one restart and I had Jack right there on him, all I need to do is press that gas a little harder and I would have had him out of shape. All of that will repay. We are going to have to race each other for years and years to come. So hopefully he did the same thing for me at Louden when I got my win. So I figured bumping him out of the way could kind of be the unethical thing to do in the situation right now. He messed up, anyway, so maybe we should have just cooled it.

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