A refueling miscue during his final pit stop cost Denny Hamlin a top-10 finish in last week's NASCAR Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway. But despite the setback, the driver wasn't lacking for confidence after the race.
Shortly after the checkered flag, he posted a tweet seeming to guarantee a rebound this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
This is 1 week of 10. We will win next week.— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) September 16, 2012
So Hamlin called his shot, right? Apparently not. On Friday, Hamlin backed off his bold proclamation and said he was merely expressing confidence in his team.
"Just confident that we could win," Hamlin said, explaining the reasoning for his initial tweet. "It's no different than the nine Chase tracks that we go to, other than Dover where I'm going to be realistic. I feel like I can go win each and every one of them.
"It was really meant to be nothing more than just, ‘Hey, we'll get them next week. We'll win it next week.' People were just taking it a little further than that, but I'm racing – doing the best I can – and that's all I'm going to do."
Hamlin's confidence likely stems from the fact that in the July Loudon event, he easily had the most dominant car. On that afternoon, he led a race-high 150 laps before miscommunication on whether to take two tires or four cost him an almost surefire victory, as a spirited charge fell short and he finished a close second to Kasey Kahne.
"When we come back here, we know that we did have the best car here in July," Hamlin said. "We didn't finish it off, but those are mistakes that we all learn from. So as long as we don't have that flub again, there's no reason why we still won't be in contention with 50 laps to go again."
The speed Hamlin had in July was again present on Friday, as the No. 11 Toyota paced the opening round of practice. But just like last week, another mistake by his team proved costly as the wrong air pressures in the tires hampered Hamlin and he was only able to post the 32nd-fastest time in qualifying.
"I knew something was really, really wrong because the car was bobbing down real bad," he said. "Simple mistake. We'll rebound from it. We're quick enough. We'll get them, but that's frustrating. Holy cow...I knew something had to be wrong. If there was nothing wrong than I would really be shaking my head.
"At least we identified what the problem was."