Camry driver Kyle Busch earned the first win for Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch led a race-high 173 of 325 laps in his No. 18 Snickers Camry. Toyota's first Cup Series win came in the Camry's...
Camry driver Kyle Busch earned the first win for Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch led a race-high 173 of 325 laps in his No. 18 Snickers Camry. Toyota's first Cup Series win came in the Camry's 40th NSCS start.
Three Toyota Camrys finished in the top-10 today at Atlanta Motor Speedway -- Busch (first), Stewart (second) and Vickers (ninth). Other Toyota drivers in the field included Denny Hamlin (15th), David Reutimann (20th), Dale Jarrett (26th), Mike Skinner (27th), Michael Waltrip (30th), Dave Blaney (34th) and J.J. Yeley (37th).
Busch extended his NSCS point lead with his win in today's race and currently leads Greg Biffle by 73 points, unofficially. Busch is also currently leading the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) point standings after a victory in Friday's NCTS race, becoming the first driver to win both the NSCS and NCTS races on the same weekend. Other Camry drivers in the top-10 in the NSCS standings include Tony Stewart (eighth) and Brian Vickers (ninth).
JIM AUST, Vice President - Motorsports, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. and President/CEO, TRD (Toyota Racing Development)
Can you talk about what this victory means to you? "Kyle has been very close ever since the beginning of this year. Starting with the Daytona 500 and what could have been. To have Kyle come in and take this one and Tony finished second. Wow, the feeling can't get any better than that. Finishing one, two for our first Cup win -- I don't know how you improve on that."
How many wins do you think Toyota can get this year in the NSCS? "I said all along from the very beginning that I thought the number was somewhere in the area of eight so I'm going to stick to that and hope my prediction comes through. With a guy like the Coach (Joe Gibbs) here running this thing and J.D. (Gibbs), who knows what the rest of the season is going to bring for us. This is a fabulous day for Toyota to win in this prestigious series. It is just a fabulous feeling. We are just feeling really great about the whole decision to move into the Cup Series as well as for all of the employees of Toyota to have this great day."
Can you point to one thing that the addition of Joe Gibbs Racing has done to elevate the entire Toyota group? "It's the hard work by everybody that has been involved in the program. It's the guys at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) working on the engine. Then, of course, it always takes more than just the engine to have success. You have to have a great team and certainly Joe Gibbs Racing brings that into the fold. It is a great organization, obviously, with a trio of drivers that anybody would like to have. It is a combination of things. I don't know that we point to any one thing. It is hard work, a great team and great drivers."
LEE WHITE, Senior Vice President and General Manager, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) What are you thoughts about this win today and when did you expect this to happen? "I think we all went to Daytona and hoped that it might come there, but it didn't work out that way. To be honest with you, based on how the Hendrick guys and the Roush guys ran at this place and the way we practiced yesterday, I'm a little overwhelmed. This is an awesome team. Everybody associated with this organization -- are at a level of people that I have rarely been associated with in four decades. I think we are going to keep working. We have a lot of things we are working on. These guys have a lot of things. It has only been a few months. We are just kind of getting that figured out. How to handle the engineering support and how to get these guys the parts and pieces that they need. Obviously we are looking forward to a few more opportunities."
How did you feel about the strong performances from your other teams as well? "Brian Vickers was up there in ninth. So we had three of them up there in the top 10. David Reutimann is right up there. Look at the improvement in Mike Skinner coming in and helping out the Red Bull guys and hopefully is going to help AJ (Allmendinger) come along and develop. Michael Waltrip's guys are running good, too. It is all good. We are happy to be here."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&Ms Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 1st
What are your feelings after scoring your first victory of the season? "That is amazing. First off, before I lose all of my t houghts, I have to thank Snickers, M&Ms, Interstate Batteries and Toyota. Steve Addington (crew chief) and all of these boys who have been on the No. 18 car from the beginning. The 18 has always been the car to beat here at Atlanta for many, many years when this place was redone and with Bobby Labonte. This means so much to come back here and do this. Overall it's great for Joe Gibbs Racing."
Can you talk about the race today? "Well, it was a battle out there, that's for sure. You know, those cars were pretty tough to drive. But overall we had a pretty good car in practice yesterday where we felt okay about it today. And then the track seemed to warm up just a little bit, and that gave us a little less grip for today. But overall we just kept working on it, kept trying to make it better. We battled a little bit tight, a little bit loose, then a little bit loose, a little bit tight. Kind of all over the board there somewhat. I scraped the wall getting into turn one and I ended up bending the rear-end or twisting the rear-end just a little bit. That definitely didn't help the handling of the racecar any, and actually hurt us a little bit. Just made me so loose getting in and so loose up off the corner, we had to tighten it up. When we did that it tightened up the center of the corner, too. Couldn't ever get the center of the corner to cooperate with us. Just babying it around the bottom of the racetrack was what I had to do all day. If I missed it, it just slowed us down so much that those guys behind us would close up. I just had to make sure I hit my marks, was smooth and slow and ran around the bottom."
What does it mean to accomplish the milestone of Toyota's first Cup win? "It means a lot to be able to go out and win any race anytime, but especially here at Atlanta. This place has been such a struggle for me. I haven't had a top 10 finish here. I remember the years of watching Bobby Labonte race around this place, kicking everybody's butt. Sort of reminded me a little bit about it today to be able to race like that, run like that, bring that 18 car back up front, run here the way it used to and the way it should. As far as all that goes, just being able to work with all these guys, that's what helps me run up front like the way I have. It's not necessarily the car or the Car of Tomorrow or whatever it is, you know, it's just about being be comfortable, you know, for me being able to drive anything at the pace that I need to be able to drive it at. And having Steve (Addington), the engineer, all these guys being able to give me what I need in order to drive it faster is all I care about."
Does it mean more to win the first Cup Series race for Toyota? "Well, it's pretty special. But it wasn't all that important to me. To me, I'm fortunate to have Toyota on our side or we all are fortunate to have Toyota on our side, giving us the help that we need. For me to go out there and win, it doesn't matter what car I'm driving. I told you I'd drive a milk crate, which is pretty much what this thing drives like. We have fun doing it, doing it to the best of our ability, making it fast. Whatever it takes to go out there and win is what we need. For me to win the first race for Toyota was fun. Congratulations to those guys. They deserve it. They've won in the Truck Series. They've won in the Nationwide Series. Now finally in the Cup Series for them. It took them their fourth race I guess in their second year, I'm sure they wanted it sooner, but glad I was able to do it for them."
Do you think your driving style is more aggressive than other drivers? "Well, I'm just doing my deal. Everybody's always said that I've been the aggressive driver and used to cause wrecks, used to be out of control, this and that. I don't feel I'm driving any different than what I used to. I've sort of tamed my style, per se. Now it looks like I'm a professional at it or something. But it seems to be working to my advantage right now, so that's all that matters, and being able to go out there and win races. But for other drivers to have to ante up or step up, I'm not so sure that it's them. I think it's a lot with the car. Carl Edwards had the best car here today by far again."
Did you think you could win the race today? "You never know for sure if you can win a race. Yesterday we were pretty decent. Here today, I've run well here in the past and have been able to run up front and lead laps and be competitive. Then you come down pit road and you have a pit road issue or you make an adjustment on the car and the car completely goes the opposite way and stuff like that. You're never sure if you're going to be able to win the thing until the last lap falls and you cross the start/finish line with the checkered."
What were your thoughts on the tires this weekend? "I'm going to say that I didn't like them. But I just went out there and we all had the same tire. They're going to pay somebody to win the race. And so that's what I focused on, just trying to go out there and be the one that they were going to pay to win the race. I just drove the thing to the best of my ability. And Steve, he worked on it with me trying to make it better all day long, make the thing where it would get some grip out of it. In the beginning of the runs we had some great grip in the thing. You can go the first four or five laps and really haul the mail - maybe the first two anyway. But then from there, you were just skating, sliding all over the place. You just had to be patient with it and slow it down, get it on the bottom and just pretty much keep that left front right on that line and keep the thing turning in order to make it through the corner the quickest."
What are your thoughts on the positive comments made by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart earlier? "The Dale Earnhardt, Jr., (Tony) Stewart comments -- I answer this question every week. I don't know. I mean, I'm flattered and fortunate enough to have the abilities that I do, and everybody talk about it the way that they do. All I can do is just go out there and drive my best and do what I'm paid to do, and that's to win races and to contend for championships week in and week out and just be able to, drive the way that I drive. And that's all I can pretty much speak for. So for those guys to talk about it as highly as they do, it's nice and everything. But, they're the best in the world, too. They're here at this level, so they're just as good as I am and that's why they're here. But for me to be able to beat them, I've only done it once this year so far, so I've got plenty more times I need to."
JOE GIBBS, Team Owner, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does it mean to earn the first win for Toyota in the NSCS? "There were a lot of firsts there. For us, we started out the year, there were so many changes, so many things, so many firsts. First of all, I just really appreciate Kyle (Busch). I wanted to say, Kyle, the decision, we all talked it over, we always do things together. We go to Tony (Stewart) and Tony said, 'I'd go get Kyle.' We went to Denny (Hamlin), Denny said, 'I'd go get Kyle.' As we talked it over, Jimmy (Makar) and everybody else, we decided we better go get Kyle. We appreciate that. We appreciate him. That was the first course with us. I really appreciate everything he's done there for Mars and M&M's and Snickers. I think that's going to be a great relationship. So that was a first. First for Kyle, first for Mars, and then, of course , first for Toyota. So for all of us, I think we were all apprehensive. When we started the year, there was a huge amount of change, everything we had to go through. So we really appreciate the way everybody worked and hunkered up. The other thing I want to say, Steve Addington, that 18 car, they've been through a real hard couple of years. I really appreciate those guys hanging tough, too."
TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 2nd
We've never heard so many comments from drivers working the wheel. How worn out are you after that? "That was the most pathetic racing tire that I've ever been on in my professional career. They exited out of Formula One. They exited out of IRL. They exited out of CART. They exited out of World Outlaws, and there is a reason for that. Goodyear can't build a tire that is worth a crap. If I were Goodyear, I would be really embarrassed about this weekend and what they brought here. It didn't keep us from winning the race and how we got to second I don't know. I am really proud of our guys on the team and I'm really proud of their pit stops. It was ridiculous to have to race on a tire like this today. Not at this form of racing. If they can't do anything better than that they should just pull out of this sport and save us all a bunch of headaches. I guarantee you Hoosier or Firestone or somebody can come in and do a lot better job than what they are doing right now."
Did you struggle with the handling on the race car? "There is a logical reason for that -- because we are all on such a bad tire. That is the worst tire I've ever been on in my life in any professional form of racing. It doesn't take long if you do your homework and look at when they exited Formula One, the IRL, CART, the Outlaws, you name it -- they have exited out because they can't compete and they can't keep up. They don't have the technology and the people that are smart enough to build a tire. This was pathetic today. To race like we raced today. I'm really proud of our team, proud of Home Depot and really proud of the guys on our pit crew with great pit stops today. It is just a shame that the teams work so hard and spend so much money to compete and then it is all dictated by a tire company that is building tires that aren't worthy of a street car. The first thing I'm doing when I get home is dismounting anything that has got Goodyear's on it and putting Firestone or something else on it so I feel a lot safer."
What is a way to avoid this so it doesn't happen again? "NASCAR needs to take somebody else's bid and not let Goodyear buy their five-year contracts and put us in this position. I don't think NASCAR would have predicted that this was going to happen. I don't think NASCAR would have let this happen if they thought this was going to be the outcome. It is unacceptable at this level of racing to be on a tire that is that bad. If that is the best effort they can put forth -- on giving us a tire to come to Atlanta with -- then I honestly wish they would retire and go and do something else. They can't build a tire that makes sense here so far. This was the worst tire I've been on in my life."
What was it like in the car? "It was just sliding around. They were loose in and loose off. Tight in the center. Just every aspect of the car that you were asking the car to do, it wouldn't do because the tires couldn't take it. They build such a hard tire -- it was terrible. That was by far the worst tire I've ever been on. I've been racing 28 years and we have been through tire problems at other companies and, especially at this level, I've never seen one group of individuals that don't work on the race cars dictate what happens in this garage area and dictate the racing as bad as Goodyear."
Was your car strong enough to contend for the win? "If you could get your car to carry more momentum through the corner, you could be probably 10 horsepower down and run the same lap time as somebody that had 10 more horsepower if you just got your car driving good. I was happy with what we had today. Obviously when we get back, we want more. But we're on stage, we're three or four races into the schedule. We're still trying to get the reliability. Knock on wood, we haven't had any motor failures, and that's because they're smart enough to know when to push that envelope and when to not. To have us run one-two today and to know we've still got more back at the shop, I would say we're in pretty shape in that category."
Can you talk about this top-10 finish for the Red Bull Racing Team? "These types of runs mean a lot for the team. We still have one more week, though. I don't know exactly where we stand on whether we have to make Bristol or where we have to finish, but we just have to keep our heads down. It's all about focus and doing what we've been doing. This Red Bull Toyota team has been doing a great job at being consistent -- no more or no less."
How did your first run in the 83 car go today? "These guys don't ever give up. They worked their tails off all day. We have a lot of catching up to do. The 83 car (Vickers) ran really well all day, so we need to get some notes off that to help improve the 84 car. The more we tried, the worse we got. We knew today was going to be a test, and we did a lot of things. We changed a lot of stuff. Rick (Viers, crew chief) did a great job, and the guys were awesome in the pits."
What did you learn about this car and this team today? "Right now, I'm not sure we learned anything today. Everything we did seemed to be wrong. Those guys never quit though. They just worked and worked and worked. My hat's off to them. When you have a car that's not handling well and you're struggling, the best thing you can do is keep the fenders on it so the team doesn't get further behind. They don't have to go back and put a body on this thing. They can go home and work on it to make it a little bit better."
-credit: toyota motorsports