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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: BUDWEISER DUEL #2


February 20, 2014


Joe Gibbs

Darian Grubb

Denny Hamlin


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

KERRY THARP:テつ Let's hear from our race winner of tonight's second Duel at Daytona.テつ That's Denny Hamlin.テつ He's joined up front by his crew chief, Darian Grubb, and team owner Coach Joe Gibbs.
You've been to Victory Lane once with the Sprint Unlimited, now with the Duel.テつ What is your outlook for Sunday for Daytona.
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ Just keep doing what we're doing.テつ We're on a roll, obviously.テつ We executed the race today great.テつ Didn't execute the first part of the race that well, trying to make moves, trying not to run single file.テつ I kind of wanted to spice things up a little bit.テつ It ended up taking me to the rear for the most part.テつ But fought our way back.
Really the goal was just to get ourselves in the position, somewhere in the top 10, within a second of those guys when they pitted so I could rely on my pit crew to try to do the rest.
We performed a great pit stop, really got out there with a lead.
A little worried about how big of a lead we had off of pit road, but everything kind of worked out good.テつ The 2 kind of gave me a shove as he's coming in for a pit road penalty.テつ That kept my momentum up to stay ahead of the pack.
After that, just kind of watched and learned what happened in the first Duel with the 20.テつ He decided to keep the high line going even on the white flag lap.テつ I felt like going ahead and protecting bottom early with a lap to go was better for us.テつ Either way, we still came out on top.テつ So it's a good executed race.
KERRY THARP:テつ Darian, talk about the No.11, how strong it's been so far, what your outlook is for Sunday.
DARIAN GRUBB:テつ It's been fun.テつ A lot of hard work went into the off‑season with all these cars.テつ Preparation has shown up with performance.テつ Denny was able to make an audible on that call.テつ Everything was getting bunched up, we were going to pit.テつ He made the call, I okayed it.テつ It worked in our favor strategy‑wise.
We talked about that several times in our notes already, getting clean in and out of pit road.テつ We knew no matter what we had to do tonight, we needed the top 15 to guarantee ourselves in the 500.
We knew we had a strong car.テつ The guys in the shop at Joe Gibbs Racing have done great job in preparation and hope we can keep it rolling for Sunday.
KERRY THARP:テつ Coach Joe Gibbs, talk about the performance of this 11 team.テつ Talk about the momentum this brings you.
JOE GIBBS:テつ First of all, last year was so, so hard on us.テつ I got to tell you, Homestead was a huge deal for us.テつ That was a big win.テつ I think it gave everybody their confidence going into the off‑season.テつ Denny has worked extremely hard.テつ I think we were all hungry when the year started.テつ That certainly helps.
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ Starving.
JOE GIBBS:テつ We're proud of Toyota and FedEx.テつ I talked to Mike Glen, Fred Smith.テつ They're thrilled.テつ It was a tough year for us last year, like I said.テつ Our guys worked extremely hard.テつ We're proud of 'em.
This is fun.
KERRY THARP:テつ We'll take questions now.

Q.テつ Denny, you and Matt, your win last week, three victories in shorter nighttime races.テつ What kind of indication do you think this is for the 500?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ Well, I think practice will probably give us a little better sense of that.テつ The little bit of practice we had in the first 500 practice yesterday, the cars drove a lot different.テつ They moved around a lot.テつ Obviously we saw a couple incidents during practice.
I'm not necessarily sold on whatever's worked here these few night races is going to be what you'll roll out for the 500.テつ I think chassis handling will play a factor, especially if we're going to run this long on a set of tires.テつ We still got quite a bit of work to do.

Q.テつ Coach, J.D. was in earlier after Matt's win and talked about 1993.テつ 21 years since you won at Daytona.
JOE GIBBS:テつ Don't bring that up.テつ Why would J.D. bring that up (smiling)?

Q.テつ How hard is that to believe?テつ What goes into that?
JOE GIBBS:テつ We've come with great cars over the years.テつ It shows you what a tough race this is, the 500.テつ Like I said, we won once.テつ Probably one of the greatest sporting experiences I've ever had.テつ I was thrilled.
Tonight, to be quite truthful, Darian and I talked earlier, I was worried about this, I had a sheet with all the cars, what could happen, what can't happen for us to not make it, all this kind of stuff.テつ I told him, When I saw Denny coming off of four, I tore it up, threw it on the floor, said, Man, we're in.
Kyle had a tough day.テつ That was awful for us.テつ Dollar, General, and Matt, we're excited where we are with all three of our drivers and crew chiefs.テつ We worked extremely hard and were prepared for this year.
This race is extremely, extremely hard to win, the 500.テつ That probably says it the best.テつ That says it the best, over 22 years, that's a bunch.

Q.テつ Denny and Joe, drivers have dominated Speedweeks before, but no driver has ever swept Speedweeks.テつ Denny, how do you go about becoming the first driver to win all three races?テつ Joe, you've had drivers, particularly Tony, who have kind of built it up like they'll be the first driver to do it.テつ Do you ever feel like this will be the year, only for it to sort of come up empty and be disappointed come Sunday?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ For my part, I think the biggest challenge we'll have for myself is keeping the reins back only for 400 miles, 450 miles.テつ It's going to be a much longer race.テつ Obviously, when you go out here and you perform the way we have over these last few races, it's hard not to just want to go out there, charge out there, show that you're still on top and still the best right on lap one.
I think that will be my challenge within myself, is keeping the reins back and realizing how long this race is, trying to be as patient as I can.
I was a little bit restless at the start of this race, I thought, a little aggressive.テつ If I could have redone things, and it didn't pay off at the beginning.テつ We made a charge to the front, didn't get there, then it really kind of backfired.
It's going to be battling those inner demons of wanting to go out there, lead laps, putting yourself in a safe position, but also being conservative and making sure you're there at the end of the day.
JOE GIBBS:テつ For me, I'm always concerned in pro sports that anything can happen.テつ I don't think I ever go into something where I feel like, Hey, we got this thing.テつ That's just not the way I personally ever look at it.テつ So many things got to go your way.
I think drivers and crew chiefs, they're more optimistic than I am because, I don't know, I'm always nervous about it.
But, you know, you make grade preparation and go for it.テつ I know this:テつ you win one of these, these 500s, it's one of the greatest experiences.テつ That night we got lost, we didn't know what to do, where Victory Lane was.テつ Norm Miller was with us.テつ We wound up at the Steak and Shake.テつ There were about 15 people in there hammered, we showed up with the trophy, out in the parking lot taking pictures with our family.
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ That sounds like my kind of night (laughter).
JOE GIBBS:テつ We had a ball then.
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ Seriously, let's do this.
JOE GIBBS:テつ I want to do this Sunday night.テつ We'll go down to Steak and Shake and have a party (laughter).

Q.テつ You've touched upon Homestead.テつ Can Denny and Coach talk about how that correlates into the success you're having now.
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ I think it's a total different beast here at this racetrack.テつ We all know that.テつ If this sequence of races and all that was happening at a track, any other non‑restricted racetrack, you would think, Our shot at the 500, pretty much locks us in.
These races are so circumstantial to the position you're in.テつ Everyone has equal cars.テつ It's so tough to win one because you don't get the entire field out there until the big day on Sunday.
For us, I think that's the key.テつ It's not some magic setup that's putting us in this position all the time, it's all the circumstances that we're putting ourselves in.
That's what is going to make it hard to complete all this.テつ But the win at Homestead, although it gave us a ton of confidence, the biggest thing for me was when I got to Daytona, 2013 was over.テつ We were talking about this year and what we could do on this upcoming race, the one that's upcoming next.テつ That's the biggest thing.
Each win has been special in certain ways.テつ Obviously for us the win tonight keeps our roll going from this week.テつ Obviously the start of Speedweeks with the Unlimited win was special because I started off 2014 the way we ended '13.テつ I don't think they correlate in the momentum because you have two months of downtime.テつ You get rejuvenated, get excited about a clean slate that you have for ourselves this year.テつ We still don't have any more points than anyone at this point of the year, so we still got a lot of work to do.
JOE GIBBS:テつ I think the other thing about Homestead for me, when I watch Denny and Darian go through the year, they sacrifice for our other two cars.テつ There were times they ran experimental stuff.テつ Denny in the meetings was awesome.テつ He was always trying to help Kyle and Matt.テつ Of course, Kyle had that experience two years ago.テつ We appreciated Toyota, all their hard work.
But to see these two guys sacrifice through that year, then at the end we kind of said, Okay, we're going to go try and get these last races.テつ To get that last one was a big deal for us.

Q.テつ Denny, I know you're a big confidence guy.テつ In basketball there's times you get hot and feel like you can't miss, golf, other sports you play.テつ Now that you're kind of riding a hot streak here, what did that feel like tonight as you're leading again?テつ It looks like you have a dominant car again, like the car you had the other night.テつ Are you in the car thinking to yourself, I cannot lose?テつ What is that confidence level like?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ Well, it's a constant learning experience of what I need to do to play the right defense to stay out front.
But, I mean, yeah, it's kind of what you have boiling in your head.テつ Really I knew it.テつ Going into turn three, I felt like when the guys were fighting for third or whatever they were fighting for, we pretty much got this as long as we don't run out of fuel like those other guys seemed like they did.
Yeah, I mean, I don't know.テつ I just felt like as soon as I saw all those cars pit on pit road, and we decided to make the decision to stay out, run one more lap, I knew we were going to have a huge lead.
The way I got on pit road, everything was just executed perfectly.テつ I felt like I nailed all my timing lines, everything was good.テつ The pit stop, really didn't wait much.テつ Looking at the gas guys' heads to start nodding, took off.テつ Everything was executed so well, I knew we were going to have a huge lead.テつ Then it was on my shoulders to defend that lead for the last 20 laps or so.
Yeah, I mean, when things go good, they go good all around, not just from my standpoint, but the strategy side of things.テつ Right now it's a huge snowball, it's really like an avalanche, and it's just not stopping.

Q.テつ Denny, you talked about how you had to go into Sunday restraining yourself a little bit.テつ You won your first restrictor plate race that you started in the Cup Series with the Shootout, but haven't won one since.テつ Is there something you're doing differently this week?テつ Why all of a sudden just a surge of success here?
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ It's got to be law of averages.テつ I've wrecked out for five straight years out of every restrictor plate race I ever entered after I won that first one.
It's obviously by the stats, the first race we can go to is a superspeedway.
I felt like I've been pretty good at it.テつ I've just had crummy luck, put myself in bad positions, gotten in a lot of wrecks.
I think that this package I've not got figured out, but I feel like I understand it pretty well.テつ Obviously we've got a lot of tools that help us with that.テつ You go about it by going out there with repetitions.テつ For me, I don't come on pit road in practice until Darian says, That's enough, bring it in.
I could run every lap of practice if the pack is big enough because I feel every lap I'm out there, I'm learning.テつ With this package, you need repetition.テつ You need to be out there learning what this pack can do, getting yourself in different positions.テつ We've done it in practice and it's correlated to good finishes.

Q.テつ Coach, apologies in advance.テつ Is there any time you can compare the campaigns in football to a campaign here in NASCAR, missing the big prize?
JOE GIBBS:テつ I think what you learn in football, it's the same, '87 you go to the Super Bowl, '88 you can't hit a thing.テつ I just know in pro sports one year doesn't guarantee you the next year.
Kyle missed the Chase two years ago, Denny missed it this year.テつ In pro sports it can turn so quickly.テつ We see it in the NFL, we see it here.テつ These are the best people in the world doing this.テつ These guys are the most talented people in the world.テつ You got the crew chiefs that are some of the brightest people around as far as racing cars.
This thing can twist and turn.テつ I don't think you ever really get a handle on it; you just stay after it.テつ Like Denny said, maybe if you're good enough, long enough, sooner or later it catches up with you.

Q.テつ Darian, the Toyotas didn't qualify exceptionally well at all, yet you've gotten in these races and they seem to be able to get to the front.テつ Is that something with the aero of the Toyota bodies in the pack or it takes them longer to get wound up?
DARIAN GRUBB:テつ If we knew the answers to that, we'd definitely be qualifying better right now.テつ We've worked hard as a program with Toyota as a partnership, working with the other Toyota guys.テつ Clint Bowyer was a really good teammate with us out there this afternoon working to be able to push us up through there when we did get shuffled to the back.
It's a team effort when we get in the race is working together trying to get the strongest finish as we can.テつ We're definitely working on the qualifying effort.テつ We had good speed in the test in January and just not sure where that last little bit is.テつ We need to keep moving up that chart.
DENNY HAMLIN:テつ My teammates qualified on the front row Daytona last year.テつ I think I was 28th.テつ But they raced horrible.テつ Every time we seem to qualify in the back, back in our heyday when our cars were unbelievable on superspeedways, '09 and '10, we qualified about like we are right now, we raced exceptional.
I'd much rather have it this way.
KERRY THARP:テつ Congratulations to the No.11 team.テつ Good luck at the Daytona 500.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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