Tony Stewart (ninth) was the top-finishing Toyota in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Camry drivers Denny Hamlin (13th), Scott Speed (16th), Kyle Busch (19th) and David Reutimann (20th)...
Tony Stewart (ninth) was the top-finishing Toyota in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Camry drivers Denny Hamlin (13th), Scott Speed (16th), Kyle Busch (19th) and David Reutimann (20th) also earned top-20 finishes in tonight's race.
Other Camry drivers in tonight's race included Dave Blaney (22nd), Brian Vickers (32nd), Michael Waltrip (38th) and Marcos Ambrose (42nd).
Camry drivers finished the 2008 NSCS season with three drivers in the top-10 in the unofficial point standings -- Hamlin (eighth), Stewart (ninth) and Busch (10th).
Other Toyota drivers in the unofficial NSCS driver point standings include Vickers (19th), Reutimann (22nd), Waltrip (29th) and Blaney (30th).
Reutimann earned his career-first NSCS pole at Homestead. It was the fifth pole of 2008 for Toyota and seventh since joining the series in 2007.
TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How much did you want to win this race tonight? "We did everything we could do. The good thing is that we finished competitive tonight and we didn't win the race so we didn't accomplish what we wanted to accomplish, but they knew we were here and we showed why we've been champions and won 33 races with this team."
How hard is it for you that your time with Joe Gibbs Racing is over with this race? "It's hard. These guys are my family. When you've been with a group of guys for 10 years and the sponsor for 10 years like this -- that's a long time. I know people that haven't been married that long. It's just one of them rough nights. We had a shot to win and it didn't work out for us."
How does it feel to come so close to winning this race? "It was awesome to be leading there with 20 laps to go and driving away from the field -- you can't ask for more than that. I just appreciate everything that Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) and these guys have done and it's hard. We all wanted to win this last race, but so did 42 other guys that wanted to win this last one of the year. I'm really proud of these guys. The biggest thing to me is that we went out and we were competitive tonight. Everybody knew we were here and they knew we were one of the fastest cars all day. We did what we needed to do."
Are you thinking about 2009? "Not yet -- I want to congratulate Jimmie Johnson and spend time with these guys right now. Tomorrow is tomorrow and we will worry about that tomorrow."
What do you think about Jimmie Johnson winning three consecutive championships? "Pretty impressive. They've done something that is not likely that anybody else will every do this again for another 20 or 30 years."
Are you emotional at this point? "Of course I am -- I'm leaving a group of guys that I have been used to working with 38 weeks a year for 10 years. It's always hard to do that. I guess if we didn't all like each other it would make it a lot easier to be where we're all at tonight. When you like the group of guys you're working with and you always have -- it makes nights like tonight even harder."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How hard is it to finish 13th after having such a strong car in tonight's race? "It's just frustrating that we can't get better fuel mileage. It was a deal where we have good cars, but we give away too many races. Tony (Stewart), I felt like, had that one won. We just can't get the fuel mileage out of these motors we need to."
How frustrating is it to have this race come down to fuel mileage? "That's not what the fans want to see. The fans want to see the fastest cars win and good battles. They don't want to see a guy run around 50 miles per hour to win a race. It's frustrating, but they did what they had to do to win the race. We would've done that if we had the opportunity to, but we didn't."
How important is it for you to finish the season in the top-10 in points? "That is obviously important. There are a lot of people that are cheering us on, especially at FedEx. We needed to be on that stage. We missed out on it last year. We felt like we need to get back there, at least. We came on strong these last five or six races, and that's encouraging heading into next year."
What do you think the team needs to do in the off-season to improve for 2009? "We have work to do, for sure. The standard was set by the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) - they have the strongest cars out here right now. We definitely have some work to do. We have to catch up in the off-season. With the cut down of testing, I think it's going to be whoever works hardest."
How strong was your car tonight? "We had a really good car all night. The first half of the race we were a little loose getting into the corners, but as the sun went down and it got cooler out, the car tightened up a bit. This was a good race for us. We finished every lap, stayed out of trouble, and came home with a good finish. I felt like I had a really good feel for the car and learned a lot so it was a nice to end the season on a high note."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How close were you on fuel at the end of the race? "I tried to save as much fuel as I could there over the last run, but we came up a couple laps short. We pretty much blew up the engine trying to get it restarted, but fortunately we were able to finish the race. We really didn't have much to lose so I thought it was worth a shot. We had a good year, so I just want to thank M&M's and Toyota for their support this year."
STEVE ADDINGTON, Crew Chief, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your thoughts on your team's season? "We had a great season -- I can't complain about it. I have to thank everybody at M&M's/Mars family that came on and gave us all the support we needed. This is an awesome feeling really."
What did you learn this season to take into 2009? "Not to show your hand too early in the season and let these guys go to work and get better than you. That's one thing that I learned as to how to approach this stuff. We know we've got a good package so let's try some different things and not show our hand. We've got a good enough race team to be in the Chase."
What are your thoughts on Chad Knaus winning three consecutive championships? "That's awesome and my hat's off to him. He's the best at that. Being there before and even though we changed into this car full season -- he played his cards right on trying stuff and when the Chase' came around they were awesome. He's an awesome guy."
How was your race tonight? "I don't really know what happened with the speeding penalty. Our tachometer numbers were way off compared to everyone else. About 30 laps later we were squeezed between the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr) and 2 (Kurt Busch) on pit road which messed up the toe. After both incidents we still had a good car -- really good -- but were never able to get out of traffic and ended the race a lap down. I'm disappointed because I wanted to end this year with a win. The guys have worked so hard. I am happy though that we accomplished what we set out to do, and that was to get this 84 car into the top 35 in owner points. That will be a huge weight off the team's shoulders going into Daytona next year. Scott (Speed) did a great job in the 83 today, too. I'm happy to see him running so well."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Bad Boy Mowers Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
-credit: toyota motorsports