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July 15, 2012
LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE
THE MODERATOR:Â We'll go ahead and get started with our post‑race press conference.Â We welcome Clint Bowyer, who finished third in today's race.
Clint, talk a little bit about the race out there today.
CLINT BOWYER:Â Yeah, it was a long, hard‑fought battle for our team.Â We were just off.Â From the start of the race, I was too loose, too tight in the middle.Â You know when you have that problem, you're in for a long day because the minute you fix one, you make the other one worse.Â You get what you got.Â So you got to make the best out of it.
We were able to chase some air pressures around, but fundamentally we were a little off.Â Good call by Brian, everybody took tires, take four.Â I got aggressive there, got on the inside and got past a lot of cars and kind of put us in position to put two tires on the next stop, keep the track position and stay up front.
Good teamwork all around.Â Feels good to have a solid weekend after a couple bad weekends.Â Humbling sport.Â You go from a win, crashed out, back to the podium.Â Good timing.
THE MODERATOR:Â We'll take questions for Clint.
Q.Â Clint, here today we have a new tire that was brought.Â What was your thoughts about running this kind of tire?
CLINT BOWYER:Â Well, this track is hard to pass anyway.Â It's hard to roll the center better than the next guy and turn underneath somebody when they have that middle line, the preferred line, because of the banking.Â On the bottom line, not enough banking to complete the pass unless you're really a lot better than them.Â That less stagger just makes it harder to roll the center.Â Ultimately I think the less stagger just brought out less passing.
Q.Â Clint, the whole wild card race, I know you've been involved in trying to go for that before.Â This time of year, that's more exciting than ever.Â Kahne put him in position.
CLINT BOWYER:Â When I look at those wild card guys that are running, Kasey, the Hendrick organization, doesn't matter who is in the car, is capable of multiple wins.Â You know going in if he's a guy you're racing for a wild card spot, you better be on your game, making some gambles, taking some risks because they're too good of an organization to outrun, especially in a situation when they're not going to points their way in, they have to win their way in.
Even me, I only have one win.Â He was a guy that I kind of knew had potential to win two and take one of those wild card spots.
Q.Â For you personally, pretty good day because you put some more space between you and 11th and 12th.Â Is it too early to worry about that right now?
CLINT BOWYER:Â It's never too early to worry about points, unfortunately.Â We're talking about points in Daytona.Â Got to have a good points day so we can get the year started off on the right foot.Â The almighty point is so important in this sport to making that Chase, because without the Chase you can win three races and have a great season, have a couple engine failures or something like that, put you out of that shot at a championship, then find yourself that last 10 races making more points than anybody, not having a shot at it.
Luckily we haven't seen that yet.Â We almost saw that last year with Stewart.Â If he wouldn't have made the Chase, he still probably would have went on and won that championship.Â How big would that have been?
Q.Â Looking ahead a couple weeks to Indy, that whole schedule is different this year.Â What do you think of that?Â Do you like that or not?
CLINT BOWYER:Â Well, we don't do anything till Saturday.Â As long as I don't have to be there till Saturday, I love it.Â Probably have to be there Thursday and not do anything until Saturday.
I don't like these night races where we practice on Friday, sit around all day, Friday night, all day Saturday with nothing, then race Saturday.Â I'd rather either do it all in one day or take two days.Â But the three‑day deal is too much.
Q.Â Clint, I haven't seen the points, but you were 26 or 30 ahead of Carl.Â It seems if you're in the top 10 right now, you're safe.Â Do you feel as if the top 10, I don't know how many races to go now, is looking pretty set for Chase consideration?
CLINT BOWYER:Â No, not until we go to Richmond until you're in, put one of them Chase hats on, that's when the pressure quits.
Hopefully we'll be far enough ahead.Â Before then you don't have to worry about it.Â I've been on that bubble before going into Richmond.Â It's nerve‑wracking times.Â It is what it is.Â That's what makes this sport what it is.Â What makes this Chase so important, it's a big deal involved with everybody, sponsors, our race team, everybody involved, it's very, very important.
Q.Â Clint, you asked during the course of the race to Brian Pattie if you brought the same setup you had at Martinsville.Â Even though you started out really fast, it seems like you lost handling pretty quick in the run.Â What was the thing he talked about you guys were going to do what the 2 did on Saturday, take their strategy?
CLINT BOWYER:Â Well, I mean, you do what you have to do.Â Pattie does a great job at calling races, probably the best I ever had at calling races, using strategy to get in the fight at the end.Â We put four tires on when everybody put two on.Â I got pretty aggressive there to be on the bottom, got around a lot of cars.Â That enabled us to put two on the next caution, get gone before Denny and the rest of these guys run us down.
Just a great team effort.Â That's what it takes, is team chemistry.Â I feel like we keep getting better and better at that with a young group with every week.
THE MODERATOR:Â Clint, thank you very much.Â Congratulations on your run today.
Now joining us in the media center is Denny Hamlin, who finished second in today's race.
Denny, take us through your run out there today.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â You know, just a great racecar, really a great racecar.Â You're going to have days like this.Â It's part of racing.Â That's why it's such a team sport.Â It's the pit crew, the driver, the car, the crew chief, all those things put together.Â We just had a slight miscommunication, that one little mistake will magnify and take a win away from you.
Proud of our team.Â We had an amazing racecar.Â We lost three points today, that's about it.Â Even though we didn't get the win and the trophy, we just missed out on three points and that was it.
We're going to take this and know when we come back, when it really counts in a few months, we're going to have something pretty strong.
THE MODERATOR:Â We'll take questions for Denny.
Q.Â Denny, seems like Darian thought you wanted four tires because you were losing grip.Â How do those miscommunications happen?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Well, because the distance.Â When the caution flies, when pit road opens, that time is so small, your time to communicate, figure out what you're going to do, you really have about 45 seconds to get it.
Between all that what happened was is Darian asked me, he said how much of the tires he felt like I used up.Â I said I felt like I used them up a substantial amount.Â I'd been on the lefts for quite a few laps.
So my information to him was, yeah, I've used up the tires.Â He said, I think two is the call.Â I said, Okay, just give me tires and no adjustments.
He took that as I meant four tires.Â So it's just that small miscommunication just messed us up a little bit.
Nothing is a given.Â Even though it was pretty obvious we had a win in the bag if we took two tires, you never know what could have happened.
Either way we had a great day and we're going to build on it.
Q.Â Denny, heading into today we had a new tire come in.Â What did you think about the tire?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Yeah, I mean, you know, it's interesting because the tires weren't losing a whole lot of grip, so people were not changing tires as much.Â I felt like it was a little bit harder to pass than what it had been in years past.Â But the speeds were higher.Â It's hard to figure out how the speeds were higher yet the tires didn't fall off.
Didn't feel like we had as many tire failures this time around.Â Overall I think the tire was fine, and it's obviously something they'll probably come back with.
Q.Â Denny, can you tell me, when you went back out on the track after the miscommunication pit stop, you discovered you were 13th place, not 1st place, what was the inside emotion, what was the determination as you weaved your way through the field?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â You pretty much know.Â You try to be optimistic, but you know pretty much your chances of winning are pretty much taken away if there's no cautions.
That would have been the right call.Â If we would have just one caution somewhere in the mix, somewhere along the line, we still would be sitting in Victory Lane if we had a caution in the last 75 laps.Â All the stars aligned perfectly where it wasn't meant to be for us today.
Your emotions, it's tough to keep them in check when you know you've kind of given one away.Â Darian has won me a couple races this year more than he's taken away from me.
I've been through this long enough now that your chances of winning, you're going to have plenty more chances in the future, especially the way we're running.Â As hard as it is to keep your emotions in check, you have to take it in stride and realize, after you pull out on pit road, go out on the racetrack, there's nothing you can do about it.Â All you can do from that point forward is figure out how to get the best finish you can that day.Â If you harp and moan on it, you're just going to go backward.Â Bob Rotella has the key:Â Think forward, not think about anything bad that just happened.
Q.Â Kasey Kahne six races back was buried in points.Â Did you think he was buried for good this year, give up a run?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Not really.Â They always have chances to win races.Â With our format, you know, all you need to do is win races.Â Just being in the top 20 in points, if you're outside the top 20, you shouldn't be in the Chase anyway.
They can win races.Â It doesn't matter if they were 20th in points with two races to go, I would still consider those guys a chance to get in the Chase and win the championship.
It's the same with Jeff Gordon.Â I still think right now, it's another team you're not going to count out until it's two races to go or one race to go and he hasn't got a win and he's behind those other guys with wins.
When you have potent teams like that, driver/crew chief relationships like they have over there, you never count them out.Â It all works in cycles.Â Bad luck is what those guys had at the beginning of the year.Â Look at it today, the fortune turned around and went in their favor.
All this luck that people talk about, it all works itself out in the end.
Q.Â I know you're looking ahead, but did Darian being gone the last two days, then parachuting in here today, I know you communicate during a race that you're used to it, but could that have been a factor at all?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â I don't think so.Â The reason is because we discussed our strategies, things we were going to do before the race even started, what we were going to do as far as tire strategy.
I just think it was a perfect storm in the sense of the caution came out.Â We got the pace car right away.Â Really we had just the backstretch to get in line, figure out what we were going to do.Â We just didn't have enough time to be 100% clear with each other on where we were headed.
I think just things didn't work out.Â Really what we missed out on for him was the adjustments on the car during practices.Â That's it.Â We never really talk about any race strategies until race day.Â So he was here for that.Â Obviously Mike Wheeler stepping in, adjusting on the car, did a pretty good job this week.
It was just a bad circumstance.
Q.Â Jimmie Johnson took issue with the second debris caution.Â Sounded on the radio like you weren't that sure about that either.
DENNY HAMLIN:Â I wasn't sure about any of them.Â I mean, I knew we had rain coming during that‑‑ I think we had two or three debris cautions.
It's frustrating.Â I shouldn't really talk about it because it's not going to be in my favor.Â It's frustrating, especially when you have a good car and a lead that you built, you spent 60, 70 laps building that lead, to get it taken away on some debris, wherever it may be.
They felt like it was a hazard, whatever it was, so they threw a caution.Â But I want it to be something that is really a danger and a hazard to us drivers, otherwise just let the race play out.
Q.Â I think it was with two laps to go you went really high in three and four.Â Were you just trying to make a wild and crazy move there?Â Were your tires going away?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Yeah, I mean, I was on the edge of every corner entry the last 20 laps probably.Â I was doing everything I could.Â All I wanted to do was just get close enough where I could hit him to make it somewhat interesting.Â I just didn't have enough distance.Â He just stretched out so far that we ran out of time.Â Really I ran out of brakes and talent with a couple laps to go.
Just a dive bomb move to make up some kind of ground to see if I could make something happen.Â Overdriving the car really doesn't pay anything.Â It cost us some time.Â Other than that it's just one of those deals.
Q.Â Obviously early in the race Kyle Busch led most of the time, but you were not too far behind.Â Was there ever any time during the day when you did not feel you had the car to beat?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Well, I thought the 5 and the 18 obviously were very strong.Â But we typically come in, and our car comes in, the second to third run of each race.Â We really don't show everything we have right off the bat.
No, there's really not a moment where I felt like we didn't have a good car.Â I knew after yesterday's practice we were going to be very good.Â Then obviously when we started the race, I just kind of was pacing myself behind those two and knew once I got clear racetrack, it was going to be pretty much game over.
I knew what we had.Â I thought that the 5 was going to be a challenger.Â Any one of those cars can make an adjustment and get close.Â I just felt like this weekend we had a particularly dominant car.
Q.Â Denny, your battle with Jimmie Johnson for the championship in 2010, you were remarkably composed, does that help you keep your eye on the big picture after a day like today?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â Definitely.Â If you look at our stats from this year, if we don't get wrecked or taken out or something like that, we're in contention to win a race.
I feel like our performance right now, even though we don't have the wins we had in 2010 at this point, I think we're more competitive now than what we were in 2010.Â Maybe not the all‑out speed.Â This weekend we did have that speed.Â At the mile‑and‑a‑half's, we don't have the speed we had in 2010.Â But we're dangerously close competitive‑wise to where we were in 2010.Â Now we're just going to take that experience from then and apply it this year.
You know, everything seems very, very similar to a couple years ago as far as how our performance is.
Q.Â With the momentum you generated this weekend, the power you showed team wide, do you leave here wishing that you had a race to go to next weekend?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â No thank you.Â We all want a week off.Â This is a tough, tough schedule.Â It's going to be great for Darian to have a weekend off with his new daughter.
Anyone that travels this NASCAR schedule every week looks forward to those off weekends.Â You got to take advantage of 'em.Â It's the last one of the year for everyone.Â So we need all the breaks we can get.Â The next one we'll have is going to be Thanksgiving.
Even though you got momentum, you could go to next week and really be fired up, I think everyone likes to end on a high note.Â We got a week and a half to think about how we're going to run at Indy.Â I know our Indy car is primed and ready to go.Â I think we have a great shot to win that one.
I like going into off weekends on this kind of note.Â You don't want to have bad momentum and sit on it for two weeks, you want to have good momentum.
Q.Â To come back from 13th to 2nd, you had four tires.Â You drove your ass off.Â How much did those four tires enable you to pass everybody that was on two?
DENNY HAMLIN:Â I don't know.Â It's a fine line.Â I think obviously there's other guys that took four that didn't make up any ground earlier in the race.Â I think the tires helped us 50%, and I think the other 50% of us making up all that ground, our car was just that fast.Â Between those two, that's where we made up all that ground.
I think you put a fifth‑place car on new tires in 15th, he probably would have finished 8th, in my opinion.
THE MODERATOR:Â Thank you, Denny.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports