Las Vegas: Toyota notes, quotes 2009-02-26

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NOTEWORTHY NUMBERS: The Las Vegas race will mark the 75th race for the Toyota Camry since joining the NSCS at the beginning of 2007. To date, Camry drivers have earned 10 victories and have led 3,479 laps. KYLE...

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

NOTEWORTHY NUMBERS: The Las Vegas race will mark the 75th race for the Toyota Camry since joining the NSCS at the beginning of 2007. To date, Camry drivers have earned 10 victories and have led 3,479 laps.

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What would it mean to win the Las Vegas Cup race? "It'd be cool at Vegas -- I'd love to win a Cup race there. It's almost as big as the Coca-Cola 600, but not as big as the Brickyard or the Daytona 500. It's probably the third or fourth biggest race of the year that we could win."

What is your best memory of racing in Las Vegas? "My fondest racing memory is probably my first-ever Late Model race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I started about eighth or 10th and ended up winning it. My first-ever start I won, so that was definitely a great memory to have."

Who was your favorite racer growing up? "My first racing hero was Jeff Gordon because I kind of started paying attention to racing when he came on the scene. If I had to pick someone from the west coast who I looked up to, it'd be Carroll Shelby. He has his Shelby cars built in Vegas right out there at the speedway."

SCOTT SPEED, No. 82 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team

What's the difference between racing in NASCAR and competing in Formula 1? "Our culture, in general , in America is super easy, especially in NASCAR. Everyone is very good socially -- they get along pretty easily with everyone. It's very easy to make friends and everyone is very helpful. It's black and white different compared to Europe. In Europe, when you don't speak the home language it's difficult in general. There are a lot of personality differences within that country. It's just not the same as going back to your home country where it's easy to socialize."

Who were your favorite drivers going up? "When I was a really young kid, I was a fan of Ernie Irvan because he grew up 20 minutes from where I grew up and my Dad was a fan of his. I think naturally when you're a kid you're a fan of whomever your Dad's a fan of. If your Dad is into football, you're playing football. That's just how it was. My Dad was a fan of racing and he was a fan of these guys. I was also a fan of Michael Schumacher and when I did watch NASCAR it was Ernie Irvan."

***

MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry, JTG Daugherty Racing

Is there pressure on you to prove yourself? "It's easy to get carried away with making a statement that one race is going to make you a hero at the Cup level. I don't operate that way. I feel like I need to grow into the sport. To make it to Cup is something -- to survive here for any amount of time is something else. It's easy to come in here with a splash and make a big impression. What I have seen from my experience is that doesn't work out too well for the vast majority of people. I'm trying to be a little mellow and grow into the sport. Hopefully, I'll get there and we'l l find out. There's no way to hide at the Cup level, but I've been fortunate that I have a great group behind me to allow me to gradually work my way into the series."

***

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What do you feel in the car that fans may not understand? "It's more the seat of the pants feeling that the fans just don't experience through the video and the audio that they see. They don't realize the edge that we're constantly on -- how much the cars move around. If they can just sit in a car on the seven-post shaker rig and feel it going around a race track, they would be amazed with how much shaking and things that go on like the G-forces. I think they've done a good job at trying to get the fan into backstage as much as they possibly can. I think our fans get to see that more than they do in any other sport."

How do you approach racing at Las Vegas? "Las Vegas is similar to Charlotte but without the transitions going into the corner. A lot of the pavement is relatively the same and the tires are relatively the same, so our set -ups are going to be pretty close. We'll be competing in the Nationwide race, too -- so it's a little more track time. I like concentrating on the Cup cars as much as I can. We've cut our schedule way back on the Nationwide side and Las Vegas is one of those races where we can go for broke and try to win."

***

DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

Is your team ready to win a race? "It's really hard to know, but I know that three-quarters of the way through last year, when we started getting our new cars and things started, I sensed a change and we started being more competitive. Then we started running up front and contending for wins and top-fives, leading races and stuff like that. You could see it with the crew guys -- it built them up and it built me up, too. Things have to go your way so much in this deal. Just like when we were leading the race at Richmond -- if a couple little things would have gone our way then we could have won. But, they didn't and we ended up still finishing in the top-10. A couple of things have to go your way, but it only takes one little thing to go the opposite way and somebody else will get to victory lane. I think we're on the verge of being able to do that."

NEED TO KNOW:

Appearances abound for Toyota drivers Thursday in Las Vegas. Raybestos Rookie-of-the- Year contenders Scott Speed and Max Papis will cook at the ESPN Zone on the Las Vegas Strip Thursday afternoon. Joey Logano will make an appearance at the Lamb Street Home Depot store Thursday evening. NNS: Scott Lagasse, Jr., earned a career-best Nationwide Series finish (12th) in last weekend's race at Auto Club Speedway.

-credit: toyota motorsports

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Michael Waltrip , Michael Schumacher , Max Papis , Scott Speed , Scott Lagasse Jr.
Teams Red Bull Racing , JTG Daugherty Racing , Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing