Daytona Shootout: Toyota teams race notes, quotes

BOBBY LABONTE, No.47 Reese Townpower / Highland Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finished: 10th

How was your race tonight? "It was obvious that you had to be hooked up with somebody or you could go a lap down. We went a lap down in the first segment and right there at the end, Matt (Kenseth) was kind of the odd man out and got lapped. It was kind of weird how it is -- just two by two by two by two and if you're not in a two then you're not going to be up to speed. A lot of it's just trying to find the right guy to be with and stay with him. A couple guys could make you loose and some of them didn't."

How do you find the right drafting partner? "You find somebody that's by themselves. If you're by yourself, you find somebody by themselves."

Do you expect the same type of racing in the Daytona 500? "Yeah, it's just going to be brighter because the sun's going to be out."

How was your first race with JTG-Daugherty Racing? "I think we ran the gamut. We got a lap down in the first segment and got it back. Had a pit road penalty, which I get about one a year so I got that over with. It's fine, we just need a little more speed to be able to push a little harder. We could get there with the 14 (Tony Stewart) behind us, but something would happen and he would pull off. We were going to be right there in the middle of that pack if he could have stayed with us, but something didn't work out. We dodged all the wrecks and got a car we can still use again. We'll go with that."

***

DENNY HAMLIN, No.11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finished: 12th

What is your feeling about the ruling that you went below the yellow line at the checkered flag? "That yellow line is there to protect us and the fans in the stands safety and I just chose to take the safer route. A win in the Shootout is not worth sending the 39 (Ryan Newman) through the grandstands. For me, as fast as we're running -- if I get into his left rear, that car will go airborne. For me, it was a tough position. I probably should have gone high just to avoid that whole thing. I was faced with a decision and obviously I didn't want to have contact with the 39."

What did you do on the final lap? "I went to the inside of Ryan Newman and I saw quickly to dart down to the bottom so I moved my car down to the bottom to try to avoid contact. I thought it was a great three-wide finish, but obviously I used some pavement that we shouldn't have."

What did you think of the racing tonight? "I thought it was good, I thought the racing was great. It was really hard for any two groups of cars to stay up front. For me, I was hoping to put ourselves in position for the win and made a little mistake."

Why did you go down to the bottom below the yellow line? "I didn't want to cause a wreck, it's not worth it. It's not worth sending a guy through the bleachers. The rule is you can't go below the yellow line and I went below the yellow line so that's about it."

Were you expecting NASCAR to call Kurt Busch the winner? "I don't know. Half of me was, half of me wasn't. It's just coming to the checkered and you've really got no room to work with so you try to use all of the asphalt that you can. It's just in the heat of the moment you're just trying to do the best thing and not cause a wreck."

Would you stay right at the yellow line next Sunday in the Daytona 500 if you were in the same situation? "It's tough to say with the situation. In hindsight you would, maybe I would've had enough room anyway so it's tough to say until next weekend."

Would you make any changes for next week if you were NASCAR? "Of course this is me involved now, but even with the Regan Smith deal way back in the day you'd like to see coming to the checkered that you can use all of the race track that you've got. Use the grass if you want. Unfortunately, that yellow line is there to keep us save and obviously that's what I was trying to do. I went down there to try and keep everyone safe."

Do you think NASCAR should make any changes with speeds? "It was fast. The track was very fast. The bump drafting incidents that we saw today was just from some people having to check up -- you can't see. The guy in second can not see anything so it's just a tough predicament."

Are the two-car packs an acceptable way to run the Daytona 500? "It's an art. There's an art to it whether it's a big 40-car pack or it's a two-car tandem. There's an art to all of this. For me, it was hard. It was strategic trying to get back up to the front during the right time. Ultimately we didn't get it done, but still I think the fans saw a great finish. It was three-wide at the line for a win and I see the Daytona 500 being no different."

***

DERRIKE COPE, No.64 Sta Bil Toyota Camry, Gunselman Motorsports
Finished: 14th

***

MICHAEL WALTRIP, No.15 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finished: 15th

What happened to take you out of the race? "I started to turn a little higher than I had been entering and I don't know if it threw Tony (Stewart) a curve because I went in -- you can't see so he doesn't have any idea what I'm doing and I don't know if it threw him a bit of a curve and he pushed me a little different. It just got me sideways."

How did the two-car packs develop and what does it mean for the rest of the week? "It developed from two cars going faster than anything else. Race car drivers aren't that smart, but we figured that one out in a hurry. It's hard to say. Most of the time when they push you don't wreck, but then when circumstances change it just got me loose and I wrecked. You do it lap after lap after lap and it gets a little bit hairy. If you remember correctly it's always been hairy here so maybe it's a little bit lesser of two evils."

***

KYLE BUSCH, No.18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finished: 16th

What happened that took you out of the race? "I don't know. Just unfortunate circumstances I guess. We've been doing the same thing all week -- all since testing. Mark (Martin) said it, I said it -- just a product of mismatch I guess. He didn't do anything wrong, I don't know that I did anything that I haven't done all night. Just got screwed up. There's an opportunity there and I think Michael (Waltrip) just had the same thing happen to him. It's unfortunate for us and our M&M's team. We wanted to come out of Daytona with a good start to the weekend for next week in the (Daytona) 500. Just wasn't meant to be for us tonight of course. It would be a lot harder to swallow in the 500. I'm sure we're still going to have some of those in the 500, but being the Budweiser Shootout, it is a `go-for-broke' kind of race. The best footage of the night is probably me getting back to the garage area because I got lost everywhere. I was like, `Man, this gates going to be open -- nope that gates not open. I'll got right here -- no.' There's TV cords out there so I probably split TV cords somewhere with the splitter and how low these things are to the ground. Hopefully nobody is too mad at me."

Is 206 mph too fast at Daytona? "I don't know that there's a problem with the speed. Maybe with what we're doing with the speed we're carrying, but it's just a product of what we've got here. To me, there's no relation in speed as to why we're wrecking. It's just the maneuvers and the by-product of the game right now."

What does it feel like to come up on a single car when you are in the two-car draft? "It's a little nerve wracking because you know the guy behind you can't see so you have to make slow, subtle moves. You can't make too fast of moves because otherwise you get spun out. I don't know why Mark (Martin) and I -- we were locked up for a whole lap and a half already. Just unfortunate that it happened the way it did and we got knocked out of the race."

Is this type of racing acceptable for the biggest race of the Sprint Cup season? "It's going to be what we got. It's not going to change here in the next week or two unless we go back to the rules where you can't push each other through the corners and NASCAR's going to police it. It's just what we've got going on and guys have to try to be careful and we've been trying to be careful. Eventually there's going to be a mismatch somewhere, somehow and it's not going to work out for the best of somebody."

Should NASCAR do something to protect everyone from the two-car draft? "I think so. I think it would be a better race to see us all grouped up rather than the two car deals and pushing each other around. Having a better opportunity of having a crash like we did. We just saw Tony (Stewart) and Michael Waltrip have the same problem that Mark (Martin) and I did. It's not that we did anything wrong. We've seen it a few times tonight. Unless we want a 10-car shootout at the end of the race, I don't know if that would be a good Daytona 500."

Are the higher RPMs a concern for you next weekend? "We'll have to take the motor back and find out. We were told not to go above 8800, but tonight we were up above 9000. Good question for Mark Cronquist (head engine builder, Joe Gibbs Racing)."

Did you see any different with the NASCAR rule change today pertaining to extra air ducts? "There's a little bit of a change. I couldn't push more than four laps. Some other guys are pushing seven or eight laps, but those are mostly Chevrolet teams who could run their motors to a higher degree than we can. Our temperature -- we're limited at a certain degree and those guys can go further than us."

***

JOEY LOGANO, No.20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finished: 18th

What happened that took you out of the race? "This just stinks for us. We had a really fast Home Depot Toyota. Felt like we had a good shot at winning the thing. I was pretty pumped up about that. We had a long ways to go in the race. I don't even know what started it. I saw the 99 (Carl Edwards) turn sideways and then hook the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and he hit the wall right in front of me. I got tore up in that and I think I got hit about five times. It's unfortunate. I thought we had a shot at winning this one. I was having fun out there and thought we were going to be good. It's frustrating, but at least it wasn't for points. I just want to win here."

***

KEVIN CONWAY, No.97 Extenze Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finished: 23rd

***

KASEY KAHNE, No.4 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team
Finished: 24th

Did you have any indication that there was a problem while you were out on the race track? "No indication. The Red Bull Toyota was fast, we were upfront and we were good with (Clint) Bowyer and then really good with Carl (Edwards) pushing. It was just a matter of figuring out how to pass for the lead. We were working on it. We were getting closer and closer and something just gave up under the hood. We'll have to really look into it because it's way too early in the race when we have a 500-miler coming up next week."

Were there any surprises on the new surface tonight? "It was really what I was expecting. The thing that was a little different was that everybody was expecting the same so as soon as it went green you picked up a car -- you picked up your partner. So it was more of pack of two cars kind of. We got away a little bit. I was really good with (Clint) Bowyer and then he ditched me. I think he wanted (Dale Earnhardt) Junior. Then I got with Carl (Edwards) and me and Carl were actually pretty fast and we were working on passing Junior and Bowyer. It's disappointing to be out this early, but hopefully we'll get it figured out and be strong next week."

-source: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Regan Smith
Teams Red Bull Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing , NEMCO Motorsports