Toyota Motorsports press release
Kasey Kahne (third) was the highest finishing Toyota driver in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. (eighth) also claimed a top-10 finish in the 334-lap race at the 1.5-mile race track.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Denny Hamlin (20th), Brian Vickers (21st), David Reutimann (22nd), Casey Mears (25th), Bobby Labonte (28th), Michael McDowell (33rd), Joey Logano (37th), Josh Wise (40th) and Joe Nemechek (42nd).
After eight of 10 Chase for the Sprint Cup races, Hamlin sits 10th (-99 points) and Kyle Busch is 11th (-100 points) in the unofficial NSCS point standings.
How was your race? “We had a really good Red Bull Toyota. Moved up right away at the start at that long run. Then we just kind of stayed there from about fifth to seventh, trying to get a little bit more speed. The car was just a little bit too loose to get much further than that. We pitted. The caution came out. Ended up in the front. Then we were strong. We were battling there with Tony (Stewart), who I felt was definitely the best car throughout the whole race. We battled with him for a while. Took four, got back to eighth, came back to third. It was a good run. Track position was a big deal. Even on those long runs it would get spread out. The guy out front could make up some ground. You needed to be as close to the front as possible. The whole team did a good job. We were pretty close. I watched Tony and Carl (Edwards). They’re going for it. Tony raced me as hard as he ever raced me. I had to race as hard as I could. They're trying to get as many points as they can. It's intense trying to win these races right now. It's super close."
Was your Camry strong today? “Yeah, we had a great Red Bull Toyota. Everything went awesome. We just weren’t quite as good as the 14 (Tony Stewart) and then the 99 (Carl Edwards) there at the end. They were a little better than us, but we were close. We were there all day and it was a good race. It was exciting."
How do you feel about your results in recent races? “Last week those guys wrecked in front of us. Went four laps down. The Red Bull team just keeps doing a good job. They're working hard. It's pretty impressive for a lot of them not knowing their future, not knowing what's going on there, if there will be a two-car team or one-car team to keep putting the cars on the track like they are. I'm happy to come to the track and drive and work with Kenny Francis (crew chief) and the whole team."
Did you have any tire trouble in the race? “We didn’t have any. Kenny (Francis, crew chief) thought the left sides were tearing up pretty good, so we took four. I think seven cars in front of us, Carl (Edwards) and Tony (Stewart), four or five others, took two. We came out eighth just because of that. Seemed like two tires were pretty good. Wasn’t a huge advantage to have four like I thought it might be."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 8th
How was your race? “I am really proud of my entire NAPA team today. The NAPA Know How pit crew was on it. I also want to thank Scott Miller (MWR vice president of competition) for all his help this weekend. We brought a brand new chassis here and we’re getting close. We have a little more work to do, but that’s okay. It’s a big improvement from where we raced earlier this year, so that’s all that matters. We are moving in the right direction and I appreciate all the work MWR is doing to get us in contention. It’s great to have this positive momentum going and I look forward to next weekend at Phoenix. It should be one heck of a good race.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 20th
How was today’s race? “We just fought an ill handling car all day. It’s probably one of the worst that we’ve had in a long time and we just couldn’t fix any of the things that we had wrong in practice. Thought when the race started we would be a little bit better, but it wasn’t better. We just -- 20th is where we ran all day. We just couldn’t catch a break and then the 2 (Brad Keselowski) jammed in his spot (pit stall), so he backed up when we were pulling out. Just one of those things.”TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 22nd
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 25th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Wounded Warrior Project Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 28th
How was today’s race at your ‘home’ track? “We got behind early and we were just off sequence all day. Battled back and we were almost one caution away from being back on the lead lap towards the end. Everyone did a good job, but man, too tight in the center and then when the track changed, too loose all the way around."
MICHAEL McDOWELL, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 33rd
How was today’s race? “We just started in the back with the driver change. I think we had pretty long green flag runs right out of the gate, so we didn’t really get a chance to work on it. The car was just pretty loose all day long and, yeah, it’s unfortunate. We obviously were hoping for more and were hoping for a big day, but just wasn’t meant to be. Gave it all I had and we just struggled pretty much all day long. We ran around our teammates there quite a bit. Joey (Logano) and I were kind of fighting the same thing -- just loose in and loose out all day. We needed a couple of cautions so we could work on it. Not what we were looking for, but grateful for the opportunity and thankful to get a shot at it."
What did you think when you first got the call to drive the 18 car? “Yeah, it’s exciting. It’s a great opportunity to be in great equipment and had some fun today. Obviously, not at all the result we were looking for. Just long green flags runs. Didn’t get a long time to work on it. We had a few opportunities there to take the wave around and get a lap back. Just none of it really played out all that well for us today, but still thankful for the opportunity. It’s great to be in great equipment and hopefully we get an opportunity to do it again."
How difficult was it to try to meet the expectations for the 18 car? “We know the expectations. There’s not a lot of people in our sport that have won a 100 races, so obviously you’re filing big shoes. For me, it’s just a matter of I gave it all I had. My ability is not going to change over night. You get into a car. You haven’t worked with the crew chief (Dave Rogers). It’s still pretty tough. You’re still racing Brian Vickers, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Burton for 25th and those guys are pretty good guys. Yeah, just a tough day for us. We were hoping for more, but for me it was just great. I was planning on doing 20 laps this weekend, so I think I did 310 more than I was planning on and great opportunity to work with a great team and just see how they do things a little bit different."
Is it any consolation that you didn’t tear the car up? “They’re happy about that. I’m a race car driver. I want to win races and I had a car that typically wins races, so that’s the expectation for me and I enjoyed the race. It was hard. It was a handful. I wish we had got a couple of more cautions to work on it, but, all in all, it just is what it is."
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What were your goals for today’s race? “You never change your objective, but you change your goals. Our objective is to provide the best race car possible at all times, but you have to be realistic with your goals. These guys that race on Sunday are the best in the business. They race hard lap after lap. They take a lot of chances and when you put another guy in and ask him to just bring the car home with all four fenders -- he's not going to take those chances. He’s not going to push it that hard. And, then I missed the setup on it. We wanted to finish higher than we did, but we’re happy to come home with a race car in one piece that we can work with. I think Michael (McDowell) did a great job. I just think the lack of time together and knowing what he needed, that hurt us a little bit and you saw it in our finishing position.”
How is your race team handling everything this weekend? “Disappointed, but business. I’m really proud of my guys. The guys that are here at the race track work on this car and never skipped a beat. I didn’t see one of them drop their heads, I didn’t see any of them get upset. They did not show me any signs of wavering -- they were all tough and professional. We talk about that a lot. That’s what we want to be seen as, so I’m really proud of the guys. There’s obviously disappointment. Kyle Busch is our driver, that’s who we signed up to work for and it’s hard when one of your team members isn’t participating, but there’s no anger, there’s no mad. You know, Kyle is a teammate and we think the world of him and we support him. We’re in this together. We had a team meeting before the race -- we're in this together through thick and thin. We have each other’s back and that’s just what it’s going to be."
Why do you think all the Joe Gibbs Racing cars struggled in the race? “That’s a good question. We have to look at that for sure. I look at the setups and we didn’t all have the same setup -- we all raced something different. There’s obviously things common in our race cars, but we were all searching in practice and we all went three different paths and we all kind of were slower than we expect to be. We’ll have to go back to the shop and look at it. This tire at this track is pretty tricky. You have to dare to lean on it, it’s not comfortable getting in the corner. If I go back to the first practice on Friday when we had Kyle (Busch) in the car, I thought we were right up there with the best of them. But, it’s his race car, he’s not afraid to tear it up, he’s going to drive it to the limit. I don’t know, it’s hard for us to evaluate right now. We’ll look at everything at the shop -- Mike (Ford, No. 11 crew chief), Zip (Greg Zipadelli, No. 20) and I will sit and talk in the morning and see what we can do to be better."
How do you think Kyle Busch handled being on the pit box during the race? “I think Kyle (Busch) handled today great. Today started last night. He called me last night and said, ‘Hey Dave, I’d really like to meet with the team. Can you have a team meeting this morning?’ So we got everyone together and Kyle asked everybody, he looked them in the eye straight-up, man to man, ‘This is where I stand, this is what I did, this is how I feel.’ He didn’t sugar-coat anything, didn’t make excuses for anything, but he leveled with the team. That honesty is a strength of this race team. We are honest with each other whether things are going good or bad. He did that today and that made the guys feel good because it’s like, ‘Okay, that’s our teammate.’ He’s not sugar-coating things. Then, at the end he asked the guys if they would mind if he sat on the pit box with us. That’s something that he wanted to do, but he was humble enough to actually ask his pit crew members if that would be okay. Unanimously everyone started screaming ‘Yes, we want you there.’ So, I think Kyle handled today like a professional. It would have been much easier for him to get on an airplane and fly home and feel sorry for himself and he didn’t. He was obviously disappointed, but he stood there and he backed his race team from flag to flag and I appreciate it. I know all the guys appreciate it. I don’t know what he could have done better today."
Did Kyle Busch apologize to his team? “Certainly, Kyle (Busch) knows that he’s supposed to drive that race car, that’s his job -- he knows that. He apologized to the guys for not being in the race car. You know, and he apologized at length and let everyone know where he stood. I think everyone was comfortable with that."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 37th
Did you have any warning that something was wrong with your engine? “I lost a cylinder about 10 laps ago or so. The valve train, probably the same thing that we’ve been fighting most of the year. We just ran terrible all day and really thought we were going to be able to make up some ground on the thing. We just weren’t fast the whole time we were out there. Story of our year -- we just have to find some speed in these cars. I don’t know. We used to be fast -- we have to figure something out."
JOSH WISE, No. 66 HP Racing, LLC Toyota Camry, Gunselman Motorsports Finishing Position: 40th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Pellet & Wood Stoves Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 42nd