Toyota drivers Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin raced in the Sprint Cup Unlimited at Daytona on Saturday night.
How was your car in the race? "I think we had a really strong car. The Dollar General Camry was extremely fast, I just couldn't get back in that position -- nobody was having any luck on the bottom. We almost had it two or three times -- I almost had them cleared and the line behind me got three-wide or something and stalled the line out. When we were two-by-two I thought we could make it happen, but as soon as it got three-wide it just stalled the bottom out. I felt really great about our car, really great about our speed -- I wish I was standing down there in victory lane, but overall it was a good night for us."
What were your thoughts on the new car in the draft? "I thought it was good. We were able to make some moves. We were able to lead a little bit. We were in the very back a little bit. I think we learned a lot about it. It was a little tough to pass when everybody was committed to the top, but that was just really because everybody was committed to the top. Overall, I felt great about it. I wish we had a little better result, but our car was real fast there and everything went pretty smooth."
What happened toward the end of the race when you couldn't get back to the front? "I just needed to get a couple more guys on my bumper. One time we had a good enough line to do it and they got three- wide behind me and stalled the line out and we just couldn't go anywhere after that. We had to try."
Did you learn things you can use in the Duels and the Daytona 500? "I think we did -- for me and for our team as a confidence booster. I think our Dollar General Camry was really fast. We learned a little about handling and about the tendencies and the line and how hard it was to pass if you couldn't get a bunch of cars to commit. I think we learned a lot, but I still think it's going to be a different race on Thursday. It's going to be warmer and there's going to be more cars on the track -- I think Sunday will be a different race again when we get 43 of them out there."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 9th
What was your strategy at the end of the race? "I was trying to get with Matt (Kenseth), but we didn't have enough guys behind us to get going. He (Matt Kenseth) got going a little bit better. I gave him a good shove once and got him going and he made his way up through there a little. It's just tough when everybody wants to ride around single file up top."
How did your new Camry handle? "The car handled great. It handled really well. We just need to work on speed a little bit. There was a couple guys out there that were really strong I felt like. We need a little bit to be able to make some moves and hang with them. I'm pretty happy with the car. It just wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be."
Were you able to learn anything for next week's Daytona 500? "I learned a lot. I'm going to have to make some friends this week. That's for sure."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 15th
Did you see how the accident started? "It looked like whatever happened with (Tony) Stewart, whether he got hit or just got loose. It looked like some guys were starting to fight handling issues just a little bit right before that wreck happened. It's a shame for our FedEx Camry. Wish we could've ran a little bit more, but it's part of this race and we at least handled the elimination part already."
What happened to cause the accident? "Until you really look at a replay you don't know, but I saw (Tony) Stewart get sideways, whether he got hit or what have you -- I'm not sure. Once someone bobbles we're all on top of each other so everyone's braking point and reaction time is going to be different. And, then guys start getting run over. That was kind of the case. I knew Jimmie (Johnson) was in front of me or beside me and we kind of checked up at the same time but we got plowed into from behind. There's no telling, but it's just exciting racing. I wish we could've been a part of it for a little bit longer. Hopefully there's no more wrecks. It was tough to pass anyway so we need as many cars out there as possible."
How did the race cars handle on the track? "It looked like right before that wreck happened, I'd say two laps before, guys were starting to fight handling issues. The 5 (Kasey Kahne) looked like he was a little bit out of shape, but I think if we get any kind of sunny 70 degree day or so at the (Daytona) 500 handling will be an issue just halfway through a fuel run."
Will we continue to see a lot of accidents during SpeedWeeks? "I think you'll see it most of the time. I think that of course the 150 will be way more tame simply because those are our 500 race cars and nobody wants to replace them. This is just a one-off race where it's excitement and we always see the crash that we had."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 16th
What happened in the accident? "The only thing I saw was a car get sideways on the bottom -- I think it was (Tony) Stewart. Then I don't know what happened down there, but then I saw the 11 (Denny Hamlin) and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) wreck in front of me on the top. If we could have just stayed straight then we could have missed it I think. I don't know what happened with all that, but we got sandwiched in the fence. Just chaos ensued. We hit every corner on this thing. All the M&M's guys on this JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) team -- they don't deserve to have to work like this. It stinks that it was 15 laps into the race. There's still a long way to go. We're all learning and trying to figure out how we can pass with these things and what we have to do to make moves and everything. Too many too early right now."
Was the accident a result of drivers trying to learn the new cars? "Yes, certainly -- it definitely does. We're all trying to figure out what you can or cannot do with this car and what you have to do to make moves and pass and everything. A little overzealous right now. Its 15 laps into the race -- we don't need to be crashing yet. Like I said pre-race -- I think I told Sprint Vision that we haven't made it but 10 laps and then crashing these things yet. It's kind of a shame. We've killed every corner of this car so it won't see the light of day again for awhile."
Do you think you could make moves in the new car? "You could a little bit. Some guys were trying to block the middle so then you go around them on the top. Some guys were trying to block the top so you go by them in the middle. You could do a little bit. In practice we've seen the top lanes be the dominant lane and tonight we were seeing the bottom lane being the dominant lane. Maybe it's just about who is leading the train."
MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 18th
What happened in the accident? "I haven't seen a replay yet, but I saw cars sideways and I thought we were all going to be fine and then the 14 (Tony Stewart) or somebody got sideways up there. Then the cars up higher on the race track tangled for some reason. That's when the wreck really happened. We were going to get through there and I got squeezed or tried to squeeze Martin (Truex Jr.) down and he was there. I couldn't move down any further -- the 24 (Jeff Gordon) was coming and I couldn't move. Somebody got turned and it looked like it was going to be okay, but then there was a secondary accident it looked like on the higher side of the race track. There were cars all in between -- we didn't get very far along there did we."