Hamlin, Toyota drivers discuss Charlotte race

Toyota Motorsports

Camry driver Denny Hamlin (second) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Hamlin was followed to the finish by his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, who finished in the third position on the 1.5-mile track.

Busch's third-place result marked his fourth consecutive top-five finish in NSCS competition. Camry drivers led 69 laps (of 400) with Hamlin (13 laps), Busch (55 laps) and Landon Cassill (one lap) each taking turns at the front of the field.

Other Toyota drivers in the field included Martin Truex Jr. (12th), Clint Bowyer (13th), Cassill (18th), Joey Logano (23rd), Bobby Labonte (28th), Travis Kvapil (29th), Mark Martin (34th), David Stremme (38th) and Joe Nemechek (41st).

Following Charlotte, four Camry drivers are in the top-15 in the unofficial NSCS driver point standings -- Hamlin (third), Truex (sixth), Busch (eighth) and Bowyer (12th).

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 2nd How was your car today? "This is our new 2012 car -- this is the first car that Darian's (Grubb, crew chief) really had a say in building. Definitely a step in the right direction with our teammates right there -- second and third. We just need a little bit more of everything -- we need a little bit more motor, a little bit more aero and a little bit more mechanical. We'll get there. Just used all my tires up trying to get to him -- I was driving with my eyes out and my hair on fire for 20 laps on that restart trying to catch him (Kasey Kahne). He just had a superior car tonight."

Do you feel good about your race? "We're going to hold our heads high today. We have a lot of stuff that we learned with our race cars. We're definitely making strides in the right direction."

How was your race? "It was a good day. I knew our car was going to be pretty strong. Had a good idea in practice that we were going to be pretty good. Our whole FedEx team just did a great job. We executed great today on pit road -- getting on and off pit road under green flag pit stops, we made up time. There's nothing we did wrong, we just got beat by a better car today."

How hard were you driving in the closing laps? "I knew that my guys were probably on top of the box seeing me catch him, catch him and catch him, but I just used up everything I had when I got to him. Just didn't have quite enough."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Red-White-Blue Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 3rd How was your race? "It was a really good race for us. We definitely fought our battles there throughout it and 600 miles is a long day. Dave Rogers (crew chief) did a great job. These guys did a good job giving me a good car tonight. Just missed it on a couple runs there -- got ourselves a little bit too far behind. We're just missing a little bit of something -- just something that we lack a little bit of speed or a bit of longevity sometimes throughout the runs. The M&M's Camry was awesome -- can't say enough about all our partners -- Interstate Batteries, Monster Energy and everybody that's helping us here. We're keeping our string of good, strong finishes going and that's what's important right now. Get ourselves locked in the Chase. Wins would be more important right now -- we would like to have this final 10 obviously."

Were the long green flag runs beneficial? "The green flag runs helped though because once you get about 30 or 35 laps on a set of tires, you can start searching around and moving around and some guys would go to the top, you could make the middle work, you could make the top work. It took so long for the cars to slow down to a certain point that then you could make speed up on the top side. I could do that, but it just took so long in the run to get to that point. If you went up there too early, you'd lose spots. I did that a couple times today. It's 600 miles here. It's the Coke 600 -- that's what you get."

Is your team starting to turn a corner this season? "I think we're good. We're definitely a contender each and every week. We're just not winners yet. I wish we knew what it was to get us to that point. There's just a little bit of something lacking -- whether it's speed or whether it's longevity in the runs. It seems like we can have one or the other and we have to put it all together. The guys did a great job -- Denny (Hamlin) finishing second, we run third so that's really good for us. We'll move on and go to Dover and see what we can get there."

Are you frustrated not to win a NSCS race at Charlotte yet? "Man, I want to win at Charlotte so bad. This stinks -- second, third, fourth every single time here. It's a little frustrating being able to finish in the top-fives like that all the time when you are that close. It's also good to finish like that. We just need to carry on that momentum. This is a good race for us so we can bring back some good notes for when we come back in October."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 12th Does the extra 100 miles make this a difficult race? "It's tough, yeah. It's a tough one for us, so I guess 12th is okay for what we had all night. We really fought the car and kind of knew coming into the race after practice yesterday that we were off a little bit, but I guess a 12th-place day when you're off a bit isn't too bad. Going to one of my favorites next week, so glad to get through this one and guys did a good job fighting. We just couldn't ever get the handle all night. We could get it to run good for 10 laps and then it would just get really tight, so we couldn't ever get any front grip in it. Move on to Dover and see if we can't get to victory lane. We'll see."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 13th

LANDON CASSILL, No. 83 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing Finishing Position: 18th

JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 23rd

BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 28th

TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing Finishing Position: 29th

MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's Armed Forces Foundation Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 34th How frustrating was it to exit the race early? "That's so disappointing. I thought we were going to have a top-10 finish tonight. We worked like heck on the Aaron's Dream Machine throughout the race trying to get it to turn like we wanted, but we just never could get there. We still weren't very bad, but if we could have got it to turn a little better I think we could have gone up there and raced with them. My crew did great and we'll go get them at Dover."

DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Inception Motorsports Toyota Camry, Inception Motorsports Finishing Position: 38th

JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 41st

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags busch, hamlin, martin, toyota, truex