Camry drivers Denny Hamlin (third) and AJ Allmendinger (10th) earned top-10 finishes in Sunday's NSCS race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Other Toyota drivers in the field included Kyle Busch (15th), Tony Stewart (23rd), J.J. Yeley (28th),...
Camry drivers Denny Hamlin (third) and AJ Allmendinger (10th) earned top-10 finishes in Sunday's NSCS race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Kyle Busch (15th), Tony Stewart (23rd), J.J. Yeley (28th), David Reutimann (30th), Michael McDowell (34th), Dave Blaney (35th), Brian Vickers (42nd) and Michael Waltrip (43rd).
Toyota led its first laps in NASCAR competition today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Camry drivers to lead laps today included Hamlin (26 laps), Busch (14 laps), Allmendinger (four laps), Vickers (one lap), McDowell (one lap) and Blaney (one lap).
Camry drivers have now earned 29 top-five finishes and 43 top-10 finishes in 2008.
Busch maintains the lead in the unofficial NSCS point standings with a 253-point lead over second-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Other Camry drivers among the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS point standings include Hamlin (eighth), Stewart (10th) and Vickers (15th).
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
Did your left-side tires finally give way at the end of the race? "Yeah, a little bit of that and a little bit of track position that we lost right there. It just wasn't meant to be. We just got off pit road right there on two tires and we just lost a little bit of time right there on pit road. I don't know where we lost it, but they made it up."
Have you ever experienced anything like the tire problems today? "No. It seemed like every 10 laps exactly is when guys would really start losing their tires. Fortunately, our set-up was a little more conservative and we were able to last a little bit longer than everybody else. It's just a shame we just couldn't get the win."
Would four tires have been the way to go instead of two on the last three pit stops? "It's tough to say. Carl (Edwards) was definitely better out in clean air than I was -- and everyone was. Everyone who was out in the clear seemed like they could go, but ours seemed like we could really go and pull away from the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) -- even when he had four tires. They just got us on pit road there and we just couldn't make up the difference. This whole FedEx Office Toyota team worked hard and we'll get them another year. We'll hopefully have a bunch of shots at this in the future."
Is this a race that you are going to remember? "For sure -- it's Indy, we were running up front, we led a couple laps. We were no worse than 10th all day and when you can run that good -- and we're just starting to run with these guys -- every weekend is a lot of fun."
What were your thoughts on the type of race we had today? "It was fun in some ways -- running up front was a lot of fun -- and in anther way it wasn't fun at all. Every time we would get to about lap seven or eight on the tire, on the run, you were just praying that you wouldn't blow a right-rear. Every lap I felt it and I would just ask when the yellow was coming out. Everybody at Red Bull and Toyota did a great job. It was one of those things that if you restarted fifth then you could run there pretty easy, but once you got back to 10th there was dirty air and things like that and that was tough. To have a 10th-place finish and make up a lot of points -- I'll take it."
Was it hard to figure out a strategy? "At first, I was kind of wondering about it, but it was actually pretty easy. You knew everybody was going to have to at least pit whether they were going to take two or four was the question. We kind of got in the rhythm where we would do two stops in a row with two tires, and then we would do four , and then do another two stops with just two. Strategy was pretty easy -- you just knew every time you had to come in so you weren't worried about anybody staying out or anything like that."
Do you think the fans got to see a good race today? "It looked like the finish between Jimmie (Johnson) and Carl (Edwards) up there was pretty good. We need to figure it out a little better so they can have constant racing. Once we got green it was a lot of fun. Hopefully, they at least enjoyed the green flag runs."
How frustrating was it to not get green flag runs with such a strong car? "It's a little frustrating, but I made most of my time on the last couple laps when guys were really hurting their tires. It was one of those things where we made up some time doing that. It's just the race you have to race. In some ways it's tough, but everybody's doing the same thing. You just figured out the right strategy, which Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) did and just stay in front all day."
Could you feel the tires wearing out? "It was like the first five or six laps were okay and then there was a one lap drop-off that just killed you. The last two laps of each run were not fun. You were just hanging on and I was praying that the right rear was not going to blow out. There were a couple runs where I could really feel it vibrating. Luckily a yellow came out. That wasn't a lot of fun. The first eight laps were fun and that last two laps weren't fun on each run."
What was it like running up front with Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon? "I'm not sure I ran with Jimmie (Johnson) -- he passed me a couple times, so he saw my car a lot. This is where we need to be running and we're starting to do it consistently, and that's how you gain respect from these guys. We just need to keep running up there each week and learning from them. When you get your chance, finish top-five or go for the win, or just take what you can get. This is why I'm here -- I want to run with these guys and it feels good."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 15th
How would you describe the race today? "Just having to be patient and just having to pick your battles and choose them when you could. The tire situation, there when we took two tires earlier in the day, it just wore out our right sides too much and we had to go back to taking four. We messed up on our strategy there at the end. We didn't take two early enough in order to get ourselves position. Then, on the last pit stop, (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. ran over one of my guys and shoved him under the car. We had to wait for him to climb back out before we could drop the jack and that just killed our day. We were just trying to get out of the pits quickly and try to get some spots with the two-tire stop there. It just wasn't meant to be. It was a top-15 and we'll go on."
What was it like trying to keep up with the tire situation today? "Stupid -- we just had to do what we could in order to do that. Everybody was out there battling the same thing. You're trying to do what you can. I think the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) took four tires pretty much the whole day and then just took two there at the end. He got out front and checked out. The 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the 24 (Jeff Gordon) had the field covered today. I think they had a lot of horsepower and had us covered down the straight-away. They would just pull out and pass and clear and pull back in line before we would get to the next corner. It was not a very fun day for us. But, hopefully Pocono will go better and if not then hopefully we can get back going sometime."
STEVE ADDINGTON, Crew Chief, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What were your thoughts on the challenges in today's race? "That was a sorry excuse for a race. It was what it was and everybody had to deal with it. We played the game and thought we were in good shape with that. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. hit my tire carrier -- hit the tire, knocked it into him, knocked him up under the car and we just couldn't get down. We would have been in the top-eight or somewhere in there and it just didn't work out."
TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 23rd
How would you describe today's race? "Just a tough day. I mean, there's really no other words to describe it. Just an unbelievably tough day."
What happened to take you out of the race? "We definitely couldn't afford to take a points hit. It's a tough day out there. The Red Bull team blew an engine. We dropped a cylinder. They tried to take the parts out so we could continue to run but it just didn't last. I just have to stop for a moment and just apologize to the fans. We've got awesome, awesome fans that come out here and watch these races, and I don't want to point the finger at anybody. There's a culmination of a lot of events that took place today to cause the problems that we're seeing with the tires. We as a sport should've done better and I've just got to apologize to the fans. I'm embarrassed. I'm sure a lot of people are, but we appreciate everybody staying here today and watching the race and sticking behind us. "
Have you ever experienced anything like that first two-thirds of the race? "No, I haven't. Like I said, I'm just embarrassed. I'm embarrassed for the sport, for myself, for Goodyear and NASCAR and the track. That's just ridiculous. It's just unacceptable at this level of motorsports. We went through something similar, it wasn't quite that bad -- at Charlotte a few years back when they ground the track and didn't tell Goodyear which is understandable. Goodyear wasn't aware of it until it was too late to make the change to the tire. This one we should've been a little more prepared for. We all know the car is harder on the right-side tires, this track is harder on right-side tires and we just didn't come prepared."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 43rd
J.J. YELEY, No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry, Hall of Fame Racing
Finishing Position: 28th
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 30th
MICHAEL McDOWELL, No. 00 Champion Mortgage Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 34th
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing
Finishing Position: 35th
-credit: toyota motorsports