Toyota Motorsports press release
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 5th
How was your qualifying lap? “Hairy to say the least. Slick as slick as slick out there, it’s a lot slicker than yesterday. We ran at least two-tenths quicker yesterday in race trim, so that just tells you how slick the track is. We were really good in race trim yesterday with our NAPA Toyota and we were off in qualifying and the guys made a lot of changes for qualifying. Based on the speed, it was an improvement. The feel wasn’t any good, but the speed was good so we’ll take that."
How did the track feel in qualifying? “Slick, we really haven’t been on this track all weekend with the sun on it. This track, since it’s been paved, it’s been changing a lot as we run and put rubber down. When you run all weekend and it’s cloudy and changing a lot and then the sun pops out, you really know it’s going to change a lot. It’s just really slick out there right now."
Can your team be a Chase contender in 2012? “You know, I’d like to think we can. We’ve worked very, very hard. Everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) has worked very hard on this NAPA car. We’ve had a lot of speed this season, we’ve just beaten ourselves a little bit here and there. We’ve had a lot of tough luck. If we can correct those little things, I think we have the speed and the people and the equipment to do it. It’s just a matter of time and we’ll have to wait and see."
How much do you want a win in 2012? “A win this year would be huge, it’s not over yet. We have two great tracks -- here and Homestead -- for me. That would be good to be able to win before the season is out. We’ve been in position this year to have a shot at winning two or three of these things and we just haven’t taken advantage of it. Like I said, we’ve had good speed in our cars, especially here lately and it’s just a matter of us racing smarter, being better prepared and making better decisions. I’m confident in this team that we can get the job done. I feel like we have a great race car for tomorrow. I was worried about qualifying, and now that we’re up somewhere towards the front, I feel really good about tomorrow. Homestead last year was probably our best run of the year. We led a bunch until we got a flat. I’m looking forward to going there. It would be awesome to close the year out with a win."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 TUMS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 7th How was your car in qualifying? “It wasn’t so good. We were loose and not very good. Disappointing for sure. It’s a bit tough to figure out right now."
What do you think of the changes to this race track? “The track is great. It just needs rubber on it. When you start qualifying at the beginning of the day there’s not a lot of rubber, so it’s really slippery. Tomorrow’s race it will get better and better as the race goes on. It’s a pretty cool track. It’s neat what they did to it."
How was your car handling during qualifying? “I just slid a little bit there. I’m still pretty happy with it. I think for tomorrow we should be in good shape and look forward to the race. Just trying to stay out of trouble early on and then I think we’ll be able to race pretty good."
How good does it feel to put together a string of strong finishes the last several races? “It feels great. It has been really nice how strong our Red Bull Toyotas have been. It has been a lot of fun driving them. We want to win. We haven’t yet, but we’ve been really close. We’ll just stay after it and try to get a win here, and just keep it around the top-five."
How was your car during your qualifying run? “It was all over the place. The track is just very slick right now. We were to loose for qualifying. We had such a good car yesterday, such a bummer because I thought we had a shot at the pole but the track has changed so much that I think whoever really gets lucky, maybe they ended up sketchy or whatever. I still think we have a really good car for the race once the grip comes back into the race track when there’s a lot of cars on it."
What type of racing will we see Sunday? “I think in general it’s going to be a good race. The track really seems to come in yesterday when there’s a lot of cars on it, more so than I anticipated. If you get out of the groove, you’re going to be in trouble though. If you get out of the groove, I think there’s going to be a lot of wrecks."
How was your qualifying lap? “It was a good lap. I got in on the first one – so that was enough for me. When they told me that we were in it was just kind of get the next one a little bit faster and pick up a couple spots. It was a great effort for us. I got to thank Red Bull for giving me the chance to even be out here to do this. Hopefully, we can impress some people and go to Homestead."
How has the experience been this weekend driving the Sprint Cup car? “It’s been pretty crazy. I haven’t gotten much sleep -- I can tell you that. More than anything, just happy to have the opportunity to be here. Between Toyota and Red Bull Racing, we wouldn’t be here. I got to thank those guys for giving me a chance to prove myself and make something for next year."
When did you find out you were going to try to qualify for the Sprint Cup race? “To go to Phoenix -- we’ve only had about a week-and-a-half to get ready. It’s been a little nerve-racking getting down here. We were pretty focused on going to Homestead. Then we found we had to come here to even go there (Homestead). Just trying to keep up with how everything changes."
Will you be racing in Homestead? “I can’t say yes right now. But, I think with the way that we’ve already started here with yesterday and today – I think they would probably consider it for sure."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 25th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Wounded Warrior Project Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Starting Position: 31st
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Starting Position: 32nd
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 33rd
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 34th
How will Sunday’s race be on the new track configuration? “I don’t know. I think a few of us are a little skeptical about it. We’ll see. Our qualifying run meant nothing to us. We have to start in the back anyways. Just to get a couple good laps to see where it puts us, see where we stack up with everybody. I definitely did not get everything out of that car that I could have and it was still on edge and difficult to drive. We’ll see what it ends up being with everybody out here today and put it back in race trim and get ready for tomorrow."
How important is your race team? “Most importantly, I can’t say enough about my guys and everybody on this Joe Gibbs Racing team and Interstate Batteries and Toyota and all the folks that are here with us this weekend. Everybody always says our team works so hard, I think they’ve proven they work harder than anybody else out here with last week and of course having to change an engine first thing yesterday and doing everything we had to do to get back up to speed yesterday during practice to at least get time on the race track in the first session to get some notes put together and some plans for the second session. That helped us a lot."
How will you be able to work through the field at a track like Phoenix? “It’s going to be really, really hard to work through the field because right now it’s a single lane and it’s very slick. We’ll see how it plays out. The more heat we get on the track, the more time that we make laps around here, the better the track is. It’ll be better the more the race gets going, but certainly the first few laps of tomorrow’s race is going to be pretty treacherous."
How was your qualifying lap? “Our qualifying lap meant absolutely nothing to us. We have to start in the back anyways. Pit road is new here and it’s wider and the pit stalls are pretty lengthy, so I don’t think pit selection means a whole lot. It’s about getting a solid lap in, not tearing up the car and not doing anything dumb and getting ready for tomorrow. It was slick, I’ll tell you that. I only drive 70 percent and I already still had my hands full."
How do you think the tires will hold up in Sunday’s race? “I would say look at Loudon mostly, Loudon is definitely a track position race. A lot of guys would just stay on their tires for 150 laps and not do anything, just put gas in the car so they can keep going."
What does it take to be fast at Homestead? “It’s been a good track to us in the first third of a race, but then in the last second third it’s been tough. I like going to Homestead. To be fast there, you have to be able to get your car comfortable getting into the corner -- that's the biggest thing. The corners there, you can build so much speed through them that you have to be comfortable carrying that speed into the corner just as much as coming out of it."
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP Racing, LLC Toyota Camry, HP Racing Starting Position: 35th
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Starting Position: 38th How was your car in qualifying?
“It was all over the place. We were really -- conditions are a lot different. Everybody is fighting the track being slick. We were definitely way to loose for these conditions. We worked on race trim all the first practice when it was probably going to be closer to these conditions. Then the qualifying runs last night when it was nice and cool and the track had a lot of grip. Going out right now it was a lot different. We were loose."
SCOTT RIGGS, No. 23 Toyota Camry Starting Position: DNQ