Toyota MENCS Texas Post-Qualifying Recap - 11.3.17

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Starting Position: 2nd

You laid down a lap of 200.617 miles per hour. Incredible lap out there. Did you think that was good enough to get the pole when you laid that down, or did you think that may not hold?

"I thought it would definitely have a chance. We improved with our time each round, and we were top five each round, as well. So I definitely thought once I ran it, it was going to be very close. Some of the guys that were up front, we dodged those bullets early in the third round, but the 41 (Kurt Busch) was the last one that I knew could give us trouble, and they got us right there off of Turn 4."

Denny, why are you guys going over 200 here? I thought that taking away downforce was going to make the cars go slower and you guys have to lift.

"Development. I mean, that's the biggest thing is just the development, and trust me, I don't know of any driver that was comfortable running the speeds that we're running right now. Kevin Harvick walked by as soon as that was over, he's like, I'm glad that is over. Like it's crazy speed. You know, you felt it at Michigan when we were qualifying, average over 200, but here it's just ‑‑ I mean, it feels way faster yet. So yeah, the big ones will be big here for sure because of the speeds, I don't know that it was anticipated. Any time you do testing at a racetrack like this, there's never enough rubber to get the speeds up where they're really going to be, and I think it's just the tire gripped the track just enough, it cooled down and went shade there at the end, which picked the track speed up. But hopefully with this big turn in weather tomorrow, we're going to get these speeds back to a comfortable range."

You've never qualified higher than sixth in 23 previous races here; any reason that you found the speed today, and was this a good way to kind of put Sunday behind you a little bit?

"Yeah, you know, I hadn't been really that encouraged going into this week about this racetrack. We had tons of struggles here in the spring. Our whole organization did, us especially. But we have turned the corner so much since then. It seems like five years ago when we ran here last. Obviously the speeds are dramatically faster than what we were here in the spring, and it just ‑‑ it's encouraging that we were able to have a car that was very comfortable right off the get‑go, and I mean, that's half the battle at these types of racetracks is getting yourself comfortable in a car that's able to race. Now, we haven't been around anyone yet, so that's the only thing you worry about is what's it going to do in traffic, because obviously at these speeds, aero will be everything."

You kind of touched upon it earlier, about the changing weather, and you've been asked this many other weekends, but how much input do you get on a day like today versus what it's going to ‑‑ what it will likely be on Sunday?

"Well, I mean, we have some hurdles tomorrow. We have two practice penalties, 30 minutes each, so we're going to be very short on practice tomorrow. And so we ran race trim for a little bit longer today knowing that that was going to be the case, but we're just going to take our best shot at it. Really by the time we hit the racetrack tomorrow, the temperatures will be way higher than what they are even at any high point today. We'll give it our best shot, and we'll probably use our teammates' notes for those first 30 minutes to kind of gauge where we need to have our car when we actually do hit the track."


ERIK JONES, No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing         

Starting Position: 4th

“I just never could quite figure it out. I just never got through there good enough. Never felt like I got through there very good and then we made up a lot of our time through (turns) three and four, but not enough obviously to supplement the pole. Fourth though is a good starting spot. You know track position has been really important here, especially in the spring, so we’ll start there and hopefully have a good race car tomorrow.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 78 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing

Starting Position: 7th

How was your car in qualifying?

“We were just a little too tight in qualifying there. We’ve been pretty fast all day, but we just couldn’t get through the corners and we’ve been kind of struggling in turns one and two and that’s what kind of got us during qualifying. Just missed it a little bit, but we qualified seventh here last time too and we were really disappointed in that, but we raced really well. We’ll get out there tomorrow and get this Bass Pro Camry tuned up.”

Are you disappointed to have missed it a bit in qualifying considering your dominance on intermediate tracks this season?

“Today, in this day and age and in this series, you have to get it all right. You can’t compromise and if you’re off in one corner, they’ll eat you alive. That’s what happened to us today and that’s the difference between first and seventh. Hopefully we’ll get it right tomorrow and go out there and get them!”

Ron Fleshman

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2017, Issue 11, Posted 11:01 PM, 11.03.2017