Three Questions with Denny Hamlin
The last month was one Denny Hamlin can't forget fast enough.
Having finishes of 24th (Richmond), 7th (Darlington), 24th (Charlotte) and 43rd (Dover) are not the type of runs that build consistency, let alone Cup championships.
Along the way, he was criticized for run-ins with other drivers, most notably Nationwide Series driver Brad Keselowski two weeks ago.
But the Virginia native hopes his rebound to a third-place finish this past Sunday at Pocono will be one big step towards getting things back on track.
The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota talked recently about how things have gone thus far this season, whether he had a chance to win Sunday at Pocono, as well as mentoring what could be the sport's next new superstar, Joey Logano.
Q. We're 14 races into the 36-race season. How do you feel about the team's performance so far?
A. "Given the fact that we feel we missed some opportunities to win races or finish better than we did, to be back up sitting in fifth (he climbed four spots in the standings at Pocono) is a good place to be. It was great to get a win at Martinsville (earlier this season) but more important is the fact that we've been strong at all of the races, on all of the different types of tracks. We know we left something on the table at Bristol where we had fuel pickup problems, at California where we hit water on the track and at Richmond where we had a tire go down. It's just freak things that go wrong but it's a part of this sport so there is no use dwelling on it. The fact that we've had race-winning cars gives us a lot of confidence moving forward."
Q. Did you have a chance to catch Kasey Kahne at Pocono, or was he too far ahead to make a last-ditch rally?
A. "We really didn’t have a whole lot for (Kahne) there at the end. His car was too strong. We got to the 83 (runner-up Brian Vickers) and as soon as we got there he moved down into our line and we just couldn’t make any headway. We had about a second or third-place car all day and that’s where we ended up."
Q. How will you help Joey Logano develop as a driver?
A. "You definitely feel like you want to be the person that he can turn to and not be afraid to turn to for some advice. I definitely was in his shoes at one time and needed some. It’s just the little things that it takes to be competitive in these races he may not know. He had more questions than actually I thought he was going to have. I feel like I was a help to him. You’d like to have someone looking up to you and that you can guide along and show the right and wrong way to do things."
Jerry Bonkowski is National NASCAR Columnist for Yahoo! Sports (Yahoo.com) and a featured contributor to Gatehouse News Service. He can be reached at NASCARColumnist@Yahoo.com.