November 09, 2010
You know that corny saying, "If you believe it, you can achieve it?" Well, Mike Ford, Denny Hamlin's crew chief, is taking that to the next level. Heck, judging by his comments after Sunday's race at Texas, the fuel cans in the No. 11 pit may be full of confidence instead of Sunoco fuel.
We already mentioned Ford's comments about the pit crew switch (that's now permanent for the next two races) that Chad Knaus made for Jimmie Johnson's team as he said that his team's decision to pit in front of the No. 48 team played a role in the Lowe's team's slow stops.
But he wasn't done there, even saying that Hendrick Motorsports was racing for the championship as an organization instead of as Johnson's team.
"As far as watching what happened next to us, I'll be honest with you, I stayed focused on what we needed to do," Ford said Sunday, even before the switch was made permanent. "We did see all that go on, saw them making mistakes, saw them studying us real hard, and when you put your focus on watching other people, you make mistakes, so I was glad to see that they are watching us and paying attention. That means they are chasing. And they made mistakes in doing so.
"We played our game. I stayed focused on what we needed to do. ... You know, that's possible going in, and you watch it, so I think it was kind of a desperation move. But it's something that I won't say that race team that Jimmie, Chad and Rick needed to do if they wanted to win a championship because they just took their team out of it. They removed their team. Their team got them to this point and they pulled them out, so this is more about trying to win a championship for the company and not the team."
Stinging words, eh? But remember, there was a lot of talk from the Toyota camp about helping Hamlin as much as realistically possible over the latter stages of the Chase.
Hamlin has also said that he's going to be aggressive over the final two races with a 33-point lead, something that Ford echoed -- with another "bring it" statement directed to Johnson's team.
"You know, it's been to be aggressive and get all we can get, and you're right, guys have tiptoed around them," Ford said about the 48 team. "You've watched them play mind games with people in the past, and I'm completely immune to that. I could care less. I'll be right in their face saying, it doesn't matter.
"I think our race team is better than their race team, and I'm not going to tiptoe around them because of where they're at. I'm going to do what it's going to require for us to win a championship, to beat them. Not that I'm playing dirty by any means, but take what's ours, and I'm not afraid to go toe to toe with them."
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