"At times, especially with single-car speed, we were the fastest in all the practice sessions. So that kind of sucked us in, thinking we had a fast car. We'd run one fast lap and then unfortunately dropped off too much after that. So we'll make notes and go back to Indy next year and try not to make that mistake again."
Knaus said it's no secret his team lacks consistency, and it would be nice to have momentum heading into the Chase. Then again, the team has shown repeatedly that it can flip a switch when it matters.
"The fact of the matter is you can overcome anything if you have the right tools," Knaus said. "That is what we are fighting for right now, to make sure that when we show up in Chicago, Loudon and all those races that we have the proper race cars."
By Mark Ashenfelter
With his team appealing a penalty from Indianapolis that has crew chief Darian Grubb and car chief Wesley Sherrill starting six-week suspensions at Pocono Raceway, Denny Hamlin is focusing on the positives.
He's finished sixth, eighth and third, respectively, in the past three races and says his finish in the Brickyard 400 would have been the same no matter what. In postrace inspection, NASCAR took issues with several of the coverings in the car's rear firewall.
The coverings are meant to keep cars from gaining an aerodynamic advantage. Grubb also was fined $125,000 and the team docked 75 driver and owner points. Solidly inside the top 30 in points and with a win to his credit, Hamlin is all but a lock to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
"You use stuff like this as motivation to go out there and prove that you can run fast no matter what and you can run well," Hamlin said Friday at Pocono Raceway. "We were on a run there [the] last month and a half to two months that I feel like our cars were really starting to turn the corner. So, really, I'm excited about what these next six weeks brings. We've got some great racetracks ahead of us -- a lot of them which we feel like we can win."
Mike Wheeler is filling in as crew chief during Grubb's absence. Although the suspensions of Grubb and Sherrill could be lessened upon appeal, they are serving them immediately to ensure they'll be back for the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Although Grubb won't be at the track, he's allowed to communicate with Wheeler and the team. That's just one of the reasons Hamlin isn't worried about the transition hurting his team.
"I'm in pretty good hands. I'm with the guy that I've been with for 10 years. I've been with Mike Wheeler longer than I've been with anyone in the Cup series," said Hamlin, who is also reunited with Chris Gillin, who was his car chief in the past. "We worked together a lot, and [I'm] pretty confident in the job that he's going to do. ? Even though it's tough losing those guys and it's tough for them especially, I don't think things will change at the racetrack too much."
That said, six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson knows Hamlin's team will go through a few rough spots while Grubb is sidelined. He's won races with an interim crew chief while Chad Knaus was suspended but was amazed that was the case.