Week of October 17 - 23, 2011
CHARLOTTE RECAP: Kyle Busch finished second in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kasey Kahne finished fourth -- his third consecutive top-five finish. Busch tussled with the race leaders down the stretch and led 111 laps (of 334) after starting from the rear of the field, but was unable to best Matt Kenseth for the victory. Busch also finished runner-up in Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Charlotte and Brian Scott claimed a fifth-place result at the 1.5-mile track.
CHASE RACE FIVE: Saturday night’s NSCS race at Charlotte was the fifth of 10 playoff races in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoff. Camry drivers Busch and Denny Hamlin are both competing in this year’s Chase. Busch’s second-place result at Charlotte helped the Camry driver climb to fourth-place in the standings and shave two points off Carl Edwards’ lead -- Busch is now 18 points back. Hamlin is currently 12th in the point standings and is 86 points behind the leader with five races remaining in the 2011 season.
HALL CAR HONORING DW: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) team owner Michael Waltrip will compete at Talladega Superspeedway in a paint scheme honoring his brother’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Darrell Waltrip, a three-time NSCS champion and a four-time winner at Talladega, was elected into the Hall in June. As Darrell’s younger brother, Michael will honor his brother by driving a MWR Camry styled after the car Darrell drove to his first career win at Nashville in 1975. The Camry features a photo of the victory lane celebration on the hood of the car.
TOPS AT TALLADEGA: While he is yet to register a finish better than third at Talladega Superspeedway, third-year driver Joey Logano has the best average finish among active drivers at the track. Logano has an average finish of 12.6 in five starts at the 2.66-mile track. He has four top-10 finishes, including a pair of top-five results in the previous fall races.
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for five victories, 34 top-five results, 64 top-10 finishes and have led 2,257 laps … NASCAR will host an Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) test at Talladega Superspeedway on Thurs., Oct. 20 … The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry is scheduled to participate in the EFI test … The Toyota Venza will pace the field in Sunday’s NSCS race at Talladega Superspeedway … The Venza is produced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) in Georgetown, Ky.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Do you expect the rule changes NASCAR mandated for Talladega to impact the racing? “No, I don’t expect anything different. They’ve changed some of the cooling things again. They’ve changed the pop-off valve again, the radiator size I think, too, or that’s next year’s change. With the restrictor plate, they’ve changed as well. There’s certainly some things they’re trying to do to separate us and get us apart from each other, which is fine. I don’t have a problem with that one bit. I actually like it. Are we going to see much different of a race? Probably not. Maybe just a little bit more swapping in between cars. That’s it.”
Is there anything that can be done to separate the field at Talladega? “Yeah, you can get rid of the push-draft. You can misalign the noses like we were before we went to the new car. You know, it’s almost a step back in history again. That’s all I can think of. Certainly, there’s aspects of why we have the cars the way we have them now and with the grip level we have on the tires and everything and the track just being resurfaced, it gives us the opportunity to push. Unless they misalign the noses where we can’t push, I don’t see it changing.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What do you think about the NASCAR mandated rule change for Talladega? “I think that it’s a good thing opening up the plates. I think they should open them up more and I think that small amount that they open it up -- it’s not going to make that big of a difference. We’re still going to be pushing. If you open it up enough to where it really will make a horsepower difference to where we’re running a decent speed by ourselves then we can’t push. The truth is that if we still go out there and push, we’re going to be running faster than we would be in the pack. I would like to see them open it up more. It would eliminate the push quite a bit. Right now you’re just relying on so many different factors to finish well in those types of races. I would like to see a change and don’t mind the change.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Will the racing be different at Talladega this weekend? “I think the difference at Talladega will be that there will be more lead changes. You’re not going to be able to push for quite as long, so there’s going to be a lot more people coming and going as opposed to being in those little groups of two holding their momentum most of the time. There’s going to be that big shuffle back and forth. There’s going to be a lot going on for them to look at. Of course with Talladega being so wide, you can get five-wide pretty comfortably, but again there’s going to be a lot of speed differential because guys are going to have to switch a lot.”
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 15 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
What does it mean to honor your brother’s Hall of Fame induction? “To be able to go to Talladega in a replica of a car that Darrell (Waltrip) raced there for the first time and started his march toward the Hall of Fame, it is a special feeling. We both won at Talladega and based on how I’ve run in those races -- even though I’m pretty much retired -- I feel like I can win again. I’m going there with a car that has so much meaning to our family and being able to leave the pit area feeling like I can win, that’s pretty cool. Some of my earliest memories of Darrell and his NASCAR career were at Talladega. I’ve been going to Talladega since the mid ’70s. I wasn’t around for that first one, I was probably nine. Darrell was not only my childhood hero and brother, but someone who helped shape me into what I am today.”