Resting on his laurels? Hmm, not so much. That's not Dave Rogers's plan for the next two weeks. Though he and driver, Denny Hamlin, winner of the opening Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway, essentially have a bye to the next round, Rogers plans to contend for wins each of the next two weeks.
"We're going to try to carry as much momentum into the Chase as possible. It definitely opens up some doors. Anything can happen in these races. We saw the 4 car got tore up today. He was fast.
"So we have a mulligan. If we have a problem the next two weeks, it doesn't matter. But we're still going to go to Loudon and Dover and try to lead laps and contend for the win. We just have a little less pressure on us than the other guys have," Rogers said.
This win marked yet another trip to Victory Lane for Joe Gibbs Racing. Now having won nine of the last 11 races, the JGR teams have made Victory Lane their second home. But the team has earned every win.
"There's so many back at Joe Gibbs Racing working hard to build fast racecars. All four Joe Gibbs cars were in the top 10. That's a testament to the speed. The road crew, the pit crew, the driver, engineers, everyone just stayed really composed. That's what I'm most proud of today," Rogers explained.
As the race began, few would have predicted that the No. 11 FedEx Racing crew would end their day with a win. A spin in the opening laps left Hamlin scrambling for an opportunity to find the front of the pack.
Rogers, however, wasn't one of the naysayers.
"Call me crazy, but I thought we had a shot to win. We had a really good car in practice. I guess we always set our goals on trying to lead laps and win races.
"I think the minute you tell yourself you can't win or you're just trying to get a top 10, then that's probably all you're going to get.
|Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs|
"The way Denny was moving up through traffic, I knew last year Brad won the race, he started in the mid 20s. Denny finished sixth, I believe, and started 27th. So I knew last year people came from deep in the field and contended for the win. So I knew it was possible.
"And we spun because he was going. He had a fast racecar and he was trying to make something happen and got in the back of slower cars. So I knew he had speed. I have a lot of faith in that driver. He can do some crazy things," Rogers explained.
As it turns out, the rest of the team was ready to help out because they instinctively know how to rebound.
"We did have a lot of adversity. You know in the Chase you're going to have adversity, it's going to strike. We've been talking about it, been trying to mentally prepare for it.
"Today I thought the entire team did a great job of just keeping focused and it paid off in the end. So really proud of the guys that travel and really thankful for everyone back at the shop, including our partners in Costa Mesa who built the powerplant, TRD. Great steam under the hood. Proud to have a racecar this fast and could allow us to overcome adversity," Rogers said.
With one down and two more to go until the next round of the Chase, does Rogers believe that the battle for wins will get tougher?
"I don't want to say this because we won it and I don't want to take any glory away from the team. The way the Chase is laid out, 12 cars are going to advance to the next round, and only three of them are going to advance on wins, the other nine are going to come from points. So realistically, this is one of the easier brackets, as it should be. The championship should be the toughest bracket. Homestead is going to be by far the hardest race," Rogers said.
Hamlin has fought to the last lap for a championship at Homestead once before. Fans of the team are hoping he can battle to that last lap yet again ... with a different result--a championship.