Toyota Motorsports press release
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 2nd
How was your qualifying lap? “It’s been a good day for the NAPA Toyota so far. We’ve been happy with the car all day. We had a lot of speed in race trim and it was a good qualifying lap for us. The guys made good adjustments from practice and the track picked up grip. Obviously the speeds were up quite a bit from practice so it was a good lap. I wish that Carl (Edwards) hadn’t of beat us, but it seems like he wins everything anymore. I’m happy to be in here today. I feel like we kind of let one slip away here last year in the race. Led a bunch of laps and got a flat tire late so hopefully we can make up for that tomorrow and close the deal. It would be great to end the season on a high note and get this thing in victory lane."
How much has your team improved over the last few weeks? “I think our team has done a nice job all year as far as bringing fast race cars to the race track. There’s been some other things that we’ve missed on -- part failures and making mistakes and things that’s really hurt us in the points. But, we’ve had fast cars all year long. For us this season, it’s been a lot of what could’ve been or what might have been. Going into the offseason I feel like we know our strengths and our weaknesses and what we need to work on to be better. But, as far as the group of guys I have and the cars that we’ve been bringing to the race track, we’ve made huge strides especially at the end of the season here with the mile- and-a-half type tracks where we struggled through the mid part of the season quite a bit. We made huge gains there so we’re excited going into the offseason of what we need to work on and come out of the box strong next year. For us, we just need consistency. We’ve got the speed, we’ve got the team to do it and we’ve got great guys that go over the wall and pit the car. We just need to be smarter, race smarter and make less mistakes next year."
How much has the grip on the race track changed? “The track just had a little bit more grip than what it had this morning. Anytime we run the single-car runs it’s easy to pick up some of that rubber that’s been sitting there getting hot. We listened to some guys earlier saying the track had more grip and we went with that and luckily it worked out good for us."
What was your strategy for your qualifying lap? “I couldn’t figure out which groove to run. I ran some in practice up high and I was fast up there and I ran some down low and I was fast there so I said, ‘Heck with them, I’m going to run the middle.’ And it worked out. Our NAPA Toyota has been really fast all day long. I love coming here to Homestead. It’s a great track and I feel like we let one slip away here last year so hopefully we can get that win tomorrow."
Do you have a favorite for tomorrow’s championship? “There’s no telling. Four hundred miles anything can happen. Those two guys are some of the best out there and obviously they proved that. That’s why they’re in that position and I just hope that I get to race with those guys for the win because I’m sure they will be upfront come the end of the day."
How was your qualifying lap? “I felt really good. My Red Bull Toyota stuck really well. I felt like I waited on the front end a little bit getting into (turn) one -- maybe a little too long -- and then again in (turn) three. Wasted a little bit of time, but either way Carl (Edwards) ran a great lap. A really fast lap. And Martin (Truex Jr.) beat us too. It was still a good run for our guys. Each week they’ve been giving me awesome race cars and it’s been a lot of fun driving them lately."
Are you happy with your season? “It’s been a really awesome year for myself. This time last year I was kind of making that move to Red Bull and prior to that I was wanting to make that move and ready for a change and ready to work with some new people and a little bit of excitement again. I’ve had that all season long. I feel great about where we’re at right now and how much we’ve gained as a team throughout the season and how strong our cars are, which everybody is a big part of that. And now it’s about over. We qualified third today and have a great car for tomorrow and then it will be another change. So, it’s been a great season. A lot of fun to work with everybody and they’ve given all of us a great opportunity. I wish it was halfway through. I wish the season was 50 percent of the way through and we had a lot more to go this year because I feel like right now is by far the best that I’ve been as a Cup driver and that we’ve had as a team. Everything put together, I think this has been our strongest time ever. It’s about over and hopefully we can finish strong tomorrow and do the best we can and maybe get another win. That would be a great way to end."
Do you have a favorite for tomorrow’s championship? “I don’t know on the points race. It’s going to be exciting. Carl (Edwards) has probably been the best so far this weekend if you look at where he’s at. I think Tony (Stewart) ran a lot more -- longer runs and things. Carl is starting on the pole. Carl was great here last year. He started second and won the race so it will be interesting. I think it’s going to be a good duel."
What does it say about your team to run so well to close out the season? “I’ve been running really good. The whole Red Bull team has done a great job. It’s been a lot of fun these last 10 to 12 races -- it's been awesome. So, we’re just trying to finish strong tomorrow. We qualified good today. I just wish we could’ve got that pole. We were really close. The balance in the car was great there. Just barely missed it. We’ve had a really solid effort here in the last couple of months."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 10th
Are you pleased with your qualifying lap? “That was a pretty decent qualifying run for us. We usually qualify in the 30s here. It looks like we’ll be somewhere in the top-10 to 12 -- a step up. We just struggled for speed all day long. We just couldn’t figure out where to find it -- where to get it. Mike (Ford, crew chief) made some good adjustments right there with qualifying."
Any benefit to running three races this weekend? “You learn some stuff, for sure. It helps you get up to speed a little bit faster. At least it does for me. Even though it’s a lot of work -- it does help in certain ways."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 19th
How was your qualifying lap? “Our Interstate Batteries Camry wasn't bad. Our balance was pretty good but just needed a little more speed in qualifying. I was happy with our car in race trim this morning, so I think we can race them with what we worked on in race trim."
Are you happy with your race car? “No. I’d like for the qualifying to be better. I’m pretty happy with the race car. Qualifying trim we weren’t as good as we needed to be. I just kind of lost the nose in the center and just kind of washed out a little bit. I’m not really happy with where my line is. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here -- it’s been a couple years. I think the track has changed a good bit since the last time I was here. It’s been two years. So, I think it’s changed a decent amount -- so still got to figure that out. In race trim, I think we’re pretty good. In qualifying we were a little off."
Did you meet with NASCAR and Matt Kenseth? “Yeah. We did meet with NASCAR and it was a good conversation. It was good to air out everything. I think it was good for everybody to hear both sides of the story. NASCAR gave their perspective of how things transpired. Matt (Kenseth) gave his and I gave mine. I think that once Matt understood my perspective and I understood some of his -- then I think now we’re more on the same page. When he first was describing kind of his perspective -- I think there was a lot of information he didn’t have about like when I was underneath him at Martinsville. You know, we rubbed fenders a few times. I think that’s pretty common for Martinsville. I don’t think we were the first two guys to touch at Martinsville Speedway. I know I raced him clean, I raced him as clean as I was probably racing anybody that day. The only time I really got into him was when the 14 (Tony Stewart) hit me in the middle of the corner -- you know was bumping me in the middle of the corner. I think that was a perspective that Matt didn’t really have. He didn’t know that. Even if that wasn’t the case, I still think him just dumping us at Martinsville -- just flat pushed me up in the corner until I hit the wall -- was a bit of an overstep."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 28th
Were you pleased with your qualifying lap? “Yeah. Just happy to be in (the race). That’s what we come down here to do -- get in the race. First thing first. It’s pretty amazing for me. It’s a big step. So, I’m just glad we could come out and do this."
Do you have any goals for Sunday’s race? “Seat time is definitely crucial. We’re not going to be as tame as we were in Phoenix. In Phoenix, we held back a lot. Here, now that we’re in the race, we’ll try and race for anything we can get. See what we can do.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 32nd
How was your qualifying lap? “There was no grip out there. We just haven’t had enough speed in our cars. Still got to figure something out here. We’re not very fast in race trim or qualifying trim right now. So, we have to figure something out."
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP Racing, LLC Toyota Camry, HP Racing Starting Position: 33rd
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Reese Towpower Project Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Starting Position: 35th
How was your qualifying lap? “It was okay. A little too free to come to the free and then we still struggled with something there. It was a little bit too free to come to the green and after that it was alright. Nothing special. It seemed like our car was balanced pretty good in race trim, just needed to have a little bit more grip on the front end. Other than that it wasn’t bad in race trim. It’s been a pretty calm day."
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Starting Position: 37th
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 Hard Rock Vodka Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Starting Position: 39th