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Dover Notes: Tires Have Hamlin Smoking Mad

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 26 2009
Denny Hamlin was burning mad at the tires Goodyear brought to Dover on Friday. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Denny Hamlin was burning mad at the tires Goodyear brought to Dover on Friday. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

Dover, Del. – It’s been a good year for Sprint Cup Chase contender Denny Hamlin, who took a shot at NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear on Friday at Dover International Speedway.

The driver of Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 11 Toyota Camry isn’t happy with the fact that Goodyear isn’t using the tire recommended by the drivers who participated in a test at the one-mile oval earlier this summer.

“There was a tire test here and, from what I hear, they didn’t bring back the tire that everyone liked,” Hamlin said. “They won’t listen to us drivers, so I don’t know why we even tire test these race tracks anymore.

“I don’t think there’s any benefit. To say it’s a benefit to tire test, I think, is completely false because nine times out of 10 they bring back a tire that nobody even tested on. They’ll take a lot of data from this tire or they’ll piece together this tire and that tire and make a tire that no one has run on and it ends up being terrible.

“I think it’s just crap, really.”

According to the NASCAR rule book, drivers are required to enter pit road in a single-file line during pit stops.

But that rule was violated during Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle rolled down pit road door-to door.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said officials reviewed the incident, but didn’t feel a penalty was necessary.

Stewart admitted that the thought of being penalized crossed his mind, though he placed blame on Biffle for the incident.

“I had already committed myself to pit road and, all of a sudden, (Biffle) came in late and we were side-by-side,” Stewart said. “We got it sorted out by the time we got there, so I think that probably weighed in to NASCAR’s mind as far are realizing we sorted it out and got it straight versus creating a bad situation.”

With four championships already in the bank, Jeff Gordon claims he still has plenty of motivation to win a fifth title.

Each of Gordon’s championships came during Winston’s involvement with NASCAR.

“I like the competition,” Gordon said. “I don’t like to finish second or anywhere after that. That is what motivates you.

“I have never won a Sprint Cup before, so to me it is like never winning a championship. The four that we have won are something that we are very proud of. But it is under the old format, and so I feel like we are as hungry as we have ever been to win this championship.”

Gordon noted that 50-year-old Mark Martin, who has never won a championship, has the advantage of being fresh after running a limited schedule over the past two seasons.

“I think (Mark) is in a great position because he stepped away from this sport from a full-time aspect and, I think, I would love to do that,” Gordon said.

“I would love to step away and be able to do a limited schedule knowing you could come back with one of the top teams and run a full schedule because it just allows you to put all things in perspective: your priorities, your goals and how much you appreciate the sport.

“He loves being here like many of us do. But when you are in the grind constantly all of the time, it eats at you, no doubt about it, year in and year out.”

Gordon did add that it is unlikely Hendrick’s current business model makes it feasible for him to drive a part-time entry for Hendrick Motorsports in the future.

Juan Pablo Montoya created quite a stir earlier this week when he walked off camera on a satellite link prior to an interview with the Fox affiliate in Sacramento, Calif.

See the incident at: http://www.fox40.com/videobeta/watch/?watch=027b811e-6268-4c76-b8eb-a0bfc822efd2&src=front

But Montoya said he had already fulfilled his obligations and placed blame on NASCAR for the miscommunication.

“Yeah, it was simple. It was a deal we did with NASCAR from four to five and I told them this was the last interview and it was five minutes until five o’clock and I finished the interview,” Montoya said. “They plugged somebody else without telling them I was done and that was it.

“NASCAR made an honest mistake and it was a misunderstanding. That was it. NASCAR knows what happened. I know what happened. The team knows what happened.

“I don’t care. If they like me, good. If they don’t? I can’t help that everybody here likes me, can I? Come on. Like they say, (crap) happens, I guess.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 26 2009
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