Toyota Motorsports press release
Denny Hamlin (fifth) was the first Camry driver to cross the finish line at Martinsville Speedway.
Hamlin led the field twice for 58 laps and Kyle Busch was at the front of the field four times for a race-high 126 laps.
Camry drivers Martin Truex Jr. (eighth) and Casey Mears (12th) also recorded top-15 finishes at Martinsville.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Joey Logano (18th), David Reutimann (20th), Kasey Kahne (25th), Kyle Busch (27th), Brian Vickers (30th), Bobby Labonte (32nd), Michael McDowell (39th), Joe Nemechek (41st) and Mike Skinner (43rd).
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 5th
Are you pleased with a fifth-place finish? “We didn’t run fifth -- that’s where we finished, but we had a great race car today. I felt like the best car most of the day. It’s just so tough starting on that outside line. You can’t get down and when you can’t get down you just have to wait until there’s a hole. We had to wait until we got back to about 10th or so before we could find a hole, and that’s when we had to come back forward."
How difficult was it to restart in the outside line? “It’s tough. Everyone out there -- you can see it. Whoever starts on the inside line goes forward and whoever is on the outside goes backwards. We thought it was a blessing that last stop when we beat the 24 (Jeff Gordon) out -- the pit crew did an amazing job getting us out. It was the dagger for us because it put us on the outside line with those guys that stayed out. We just needed to start on the bottom one of two of those restarts -- then we would have been fine."
Did the multiple restarts late in the race hurt your chances? “They killed us. There was one point where I caught the 31 (Jeff Burton) right before that last restart and I knew a caution was coming. I said, ‘Man, I have to get around him because he’s going to start on the inside line.’ The caution came right as I got beside him. When I needed to go I could go, but the fastest car doesn’t always win. We know that in this sport. It’s strategy and things like that play into it. I was lapping Tony (Stewart) 100 laps ago. Frustrating day, but that’s how it goes."
Did it feel good to have such a strong car? “It feels great to be fast. To be competitive like we were today -- it’s a great feeling. Every time I step into this car at Martinsville -- Mike (Ford, crew chief) and the guys have got me a car that I can win with. That’s all I can ask for. Whether I come through and win or not -- sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t."
Did the race feel like it was out of control at times? “There’s a point and it’s almost like it’s out of control. Eventually, someone’s going to get hurt in this whole thing because we keep sending guys in the corner and in the wall. These are deadly machines. Everyone who gets run into then pound the guy that runs into him. Eventually, there’s nothing good that’s going to happen from everyone to keep retaliating like this."
Was it a crazy race -- even for Martinsville? “For Martinsville for sure. People just have no regard. I would get into guys and then I know it’s coming -- I’m going to get slammed in the next corner. It’s just one of those things where it’s frustrating to watch because you see some of these cars getting torn up on accidents. Accidents happen and some these drivers need to realize that."
What happened when you spun on lap eight? “There were some anxious cars up in front of us and they got together. When they did, we got caught in it. We locked up the brakes and someone hit us from behind. It’s a small enough track to where the speed was slow enough and we knew we didn’t have much damage, so we knew we still had a car that was capable of winning."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 8th
Are you pleased with a top-10 finish at Martinsville? “This is by far my toughest track. I want to thank Pat Tryson (crew chief) for helping us out this weekend and the rest of my NAPA team for stepping up and making it through a very tough week. I’m so proud of my team. My biggest challenge today was all the restarts. I pretty much lined up on the outside for all but two or three of them. Fortunately, I was on the inside for the one that counted the most -- the last one. It was pretty crazy out there so I’m happy to end up eighth. We’ll take eighth and go to Texas."
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 12th
How does it feel to get your best finish of the season? “I’m so proud of all the guys on this GEICO racing team. We’ve known all year that we could run this well and it’s a nice feeling to have two weeks in a row where we have run up front. I want to thank Bob Germain (team owner) for giving us the chance this afternoon and we are making great strides as a team. Bootie (Barker, crew chief) and all the guys on this team deserve a lot of credit."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 18th
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 20th
How was your race? “What a day. We fought hard and tried to get everything we could. We got spun early, lost a lap, battled back and just kept at it. Once we got back on the lead lap we tried to take a couple chances late to gain track position to get the Aaron’s Dream Machine up front, but we got hung on the outside on old tires and couldn’t keep it on the second to last restart. Then we restarted 18th on new tires with three laps to go and cut a tire. Luckily, we only fell one spot and we finished in the top-20. Not our best day, but far from our worst -- I just wish we could have done a little better. I want to thank all the crew guys for giving it everything they had today. We battled all day and I’m proud of that. Now I’m ready to get to Texas -- that’s one of my favorite races all year."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 27th
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How was the race today? “I’m really pleased with most of the race. This M&M’s Toyota Camry was really fast. We led the most laps again -- this is the second time this year that we’ve led the most laps at Martinsville. We’re going to get a clock from here one day, but it’s not going to be today. Really proud of Kyle (Busch) for the way he raced today on the race track and then the way he handled adversity when adversity struck. There’s just hard racing at the end there. The 17 (Matt Kenseth) got into us coming off turn two -- I don’t know if he cut his right-front (tire) or not. Then got into turn three and 17 (Matt Kenseth) had his tires locked up and drove into our left rear quarter. I’d like to think it’s good, hard, clean racing at Martinsville and we’re a victim of circumstance at a short track. It caught Kyle by surprise and he didn’t know he was going to take a shot in the left rear and he did. Unfortunately, we backed one in and then we made some errors on pit road. Our day was done as soon as we made contact, but we were trying to salvage as many laps as we could. We made some errors there and we’ll take a look at the tape and talk about it as a group and see what we can do better."
What happened when the wheel came loose? “What happened is the right front tire changer was working on the right front and to speed up time, the rear changer comes over and knocks the lug nuts off the left side. So there was no lug nuts on the wheel and I knew that and initially it was, ‘Hey, let’s not lose a lap, let’s try to stay.’ My fault -- trying to get too greedy. I should have just took the one-lap, two-lap penalty and got what we could. I didn’t and instead I initially told Kyle that we were going to try to beat the pace car off. They started putting the lugs back on the left front and all heck broke loose. So much went on that I can’t remember what happened."
Do you chalk your bad luck today to just short track racing at Martinsville? “It’s not this place -- it’s life. In life you have to go through tests and last year we were in the Chase and we had a number of tests come our way and quite frankly, we didn’t handle them that well. I think that as a team we’ve handled a lot of tests this year really well, but none in the Chase. Now the Chase comes and we’ve been dealt a lot of tests and I’m really proud of how this team has handled it. I haven’t seen people bow their heads. I haven’t seen people complaining. I haven’t seen Kyle get frustrated. We just go to the race track and work as hard as we can. This is another one of those tests and it clearly hurts any realistic shot at winning a championship this year. There’s still a chance -- we won’t give up, but realistically we know it’s over. But in the end -- a year from now, two years from now, 10 years from now -- this will make us better people and a better race team and that’s how you go forward."
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Scott Products Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 32nd
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP Racing, LLC Toyota Camry, HP Racing Finishing Position: 39th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Pellet & Wood Stoves Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 41st