Monday, November 8, 2010

Hamlin Crew Chief Thinks Using No. 24 Pit Crew Took Johnson Out of Hunt

Mike Ford, crew chief for winner Denny Hamlin, says that was likely the move that doomed Johnson's bid for a record sixth championship.

And Ford said he had purposely picked the pit he had for Hamlin so that Hamlin would be pitting right in front of Johnson – so Johnson's crew could perhaps be intimidated, and that Johnson would have to work to avoid getting blocked in. Ford said normally he wouldn't play head games like that, but Ford said Knaus triggered that move by playing it that way himself at Kansas a few weeks ago, handicapping Hamlin.

"If they wanted to win a championship...they just took their team out of it," Ford said of Knaus and Johnson.

"Their team got them to this point (six wins)...and they pulled them out.

"So this is more about trying to win a championship for the company, and not the team.
"We saw them studying us real hard, and when you put your focus on watching other people, you make mistakes....

"That means they are chasing us. And they made mistakes in doing so."

Ford said his attitude about this title, and his team's attitude, now was aggressive. "To be aggressive and get all we can," Ford said. "Guys have tiptoed around them (Knaus and Johnson)'ve watched them play mind game. But I'm completely immune to that.

"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. I'm going to do what it's to going to require for us to win a championship....not that I'm playing dirty, but take what's our.

"I'm not afraid to go toes to toe with them."


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