Chesterfield, Va.native Denny Hamlin earned the top-finish (second) Cby a Toyota Camry in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint up Series (NSCS) race at CVirginia's Martinsville Speedway. Hamlin led the most laps (296 of 500 laps) in today's race. There were...
Chesterfield, Va.native Denny Hamlin earned the top-finish (second) Cby a Toyota Camry in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint up Series (NSCS) race at CVirginia's Martinsville Speedway.
Hamlin led the most laps (296 of 500 laps) in today's race.
There were 14 Camrys that started Sunday's race - the most since Toyota joined the series in 2007.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Michael Waltrip (13th), Marcos Ambrose (14th), David Reutimann (20th), Kyle Busch (24th), Scott Riggs (30th), Joey Logano (32nd), Brian Vickers (33rd), Jeremy Mayfield (38th), Scott Speed (39th), Robby Gordon (40th), Joe Nemechek (41st), Dave Blaney (42nd) and Todd Bodine (43rd).
Five Camry drivers are in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS point standings - Hamlin (fifth), Busch (sixth), Reutimann (11th), Waltrip (17th) and Vickers (20th).
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing
Can you talk about the end of the race and your battle with Jimmie Johnson? "I'm honored to be on the race track with guys like Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff (Gordon) and Tony (Stewart). Those are the guys who are the best in the business. We came up short. That was short-track racing. I would've done the same thing to him, and if it comes back around, I will do the same. It's just the way it is. In Martinsville, you have to battle for every inch, and I was trying to protect a spot, and he was trying to get it at the end of the race. That's the way it goes."
Can you talk about the last few laps? "We were fortunate to get back position on them. I got a good restart there on Jimmie (Johnson). They just got us on pit road, and we had to battle back. That's short track racing. That's all the fans could ask for right there. We tried to do our best to hold him off, and you fight for every inch around this race track. He got the better of us today. If the roles were reversed, I would do the same thing. And believe me, I will if it ever comes back around."
What would you say to Jimmie Johnson following today's race? "'Great race.' I battled with the 24 (Jeff Gordon) the same way earlier in the day. The same way. We were bumping back and forth. I had to nudge a lot of guys to get around them at points today. It's hard for me to fault him for that. With 20 (laps) to go, that's part of racing. It really is. It's short-track racing at its best."
Would you have done the same thing to Jimmie Johnson if you caught back up to him? "I would've definitely done the same thing back. His intentions were not to wreck me or anything like that, it was just to get me loose and get position. I don't think he meant to get me all the way up the race track. That's hard racing. There's just one-and- a-half grooves at Martinsville. You can't expect two cars to fit in there and we were trying to put two cars in there."
Do you feel confident following back-to-back second-place finishes? "I feel confident. I would love to have race wins. We had a great opportunity today to win a race. We overcame the pit stop on the end. You can't blame the pit crew there. We got the position back on the race track. He was in a better spot. I was in a vulnerable spot. We've seen it in races here past. The leader with the guy on him with a few laps to go is not in the best position. If I was in his position, I probably would've been the winner."
How disappointed would you be if Jimmie Johnson had spun you completely out? "That would've definitely been disappointing. Luckily, things ended up the way they did. We still got a solid finish with it. Sure, it's disappointing, but we were confident knowing that we had a good car today."
Are you angrier than you seem? "We're not going to win the championship this weekend. We're going to have to win the championship later on in the season. We know we have a great package now. This is a 'Chase' race, so I'm happy about that. We have to make sure we're in position first. We have to make sure we're in the top-12 and our whole FedEx team is doing all it can to provide me good cars. To come to our first two short tracks and to be in contention to win both races - it's uplifting. Yeah, it sucks that you didn't win, but things don't always fall our way, and today, they didn't. I was in a vulnerable spot. I let him get too close, and when he did get close, he took the first opportunity he could to get to us, and I would've done the same exact thing."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip
Finishing Position: 13th
How was your car in today's race? "It was a great day for the Napa Auto Parts team. They did a great job. To battle back from being down a lap three times and race back on the lead lap was great. I am so proud of my team. They prepared a good car for me. That's how this deal works - I want top-10 finishes bad."
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position: 14th
Are you pleased with your performance at your first two NSCS short track races? "If you had said that we would get away with two top-15s (finishes) in my first two short tracks with a COT - I'll take it. We had old tires on there at the end and we were able to stay on the lead lap all day. I just have to thank my crew so much - Frank Kerr (crew chief) and everyone involved. They give me awesome cars and we just keep getting better and better. I also have to thank all the guys at Michael Waltrip Racing who help us with our partnership back at the shop. They do a great job and give us great stuff every week. We're reliable, we're fast and it's just been a lot of fun. I'm kind of over this short track stuff - let's go back to a normal speedway."
Were you able to get in your own groove around Martinsville? "I have no groove - I'm just hanging on the whole time. I'll take it. I like the bottom out there. I seem to be able to keep out of trouble out there. We finished the race intact and on the lead lap both races on the short tracks and I am pretty pleased."
What do you think about racing at Martinsville? "It's tough every single lap and these guys are really getting after it out there. The experience is awesome and I'm pretty tired right now so I will have to train a little harder for the next round of short tracks. It's a lot of fun. This is an awesome track and just a lot of fun to drive. It's very difficult to get around here for 500 laps. I ran out of brakes, ran out of tires, ran out of talent and somehow we managed to finish."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael
Finishing Position: 20th
What happened at the end of the race between yourself and a lapped car? "We just got run over by a lapped car that had his eyes rolled back in his head and ran over us for no reason. It's disappointing when you run top-10 all day and you don't really touch anybody all day for Martinsville and then have somebody spin you out. That's hard to take, but we'll just move on."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing
SCOTT RIGGS, No. 36 Nexxus Lighting Toyota Camry, Tommy
Finishing Position: 30th
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot
Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing
Did your car get better as the race progressed? "By the end of the race at least we were faster, you know, in top-10. You can't overcome a flat tire and it took us a few laps to get where we needed to be. I felt like we were okay but it's just like every other race. It's hard to come back after what we lost in the beginning. I think looking back at it I had no practice, had no laps around this joint and pretty much our practicing laps was the beginning of the race. It was nothing like what I thought I was going to have. We'll keep working at it."
Did the race track change from the beginning to the end of the race? "I think everyone got faster. I mean, I think we picked up more just because we were getting better but I think everyone got pretty fast when it cooled down a little bit. It's a tough racetrack but we kind of had it at the end."
What did you learn today that you will bring back in the fall? "I learned some things on the race track about how to come off the corner, with the drive off, by the end of the race. That's something that I'll write down in my notes. There was a few other little things but that's probably the biggest thing."
JEREMY MAYFIELD, No. 41 All Sport Body Quencher Toyota Camry,
Jeremy Mayfield Motorsports
Finishing Position: 38th
What happened between yourself and Kyle Busch early in the race? "I'm sure Kyle Busch is going to offer to buy me dinner, since this is the second time this year he's wrecked me (laughing)! So I'm looking forward to that. We really had a good car today before the wreck, and for some reason, we had a really good car even after the wreck. It was just one of those days where we were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
Finishing Position: 40th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 Toyota Camry, NEMCO
Finishing Position: 41st
DAVE BLANEY, No. 66 Toyota Camry,
Finishing Position: 42nd
TODD BODINE, No. 64 Toyota
Camry, Gunselman Motorsports
Finishing Position: 43rd
-credit: toyota motorsports