Toyota Camry drivers Denny Hamlin (third) and Kyle Busch (10th) had top-10 finishes in Saturday evening's race. Glendale, Ariz.-native Michael McDowell finished 34th, and fellow Phoenix-area native J.J. Yeley ended up 39th after he was involved...
Toyota Camry drivers Denny Hamlin (third) and Kyle Busch (10th) had top-10 finishes in Saturday evening's race.
Glendale, Ariz.-native Michael McDowell finished 34th, and fellow Phoenix-area native J.J. Yeley ended up 39th after he was involved in an incident on lap 134. Other Toyota drivers in the field included Tony Stewart (14th), David Reutimann (18th), Michael Waltrip (24th), Brian Vickers (25th), Mike Skinner (28th) and Dave Blaney (30th).
Camry drivers have earned 10 top-five finishes and 16 top-10 finishes in 2008. Camry drivers in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS point standings include Busch (second), Hamlin (sixth), Stewart (seventh) and Vickers (19th).
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Kinko's/March of Dimes Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 3rd
Did that fuel stop in the closing laps pay off for you? "If they weren't going to make it we were going to be the ones to capitalize. I would have loved to see Mark Martin get a win. Like he said, he don't get that many chances. I was there rooting for him even though I was trying to chase him down there at the end. What a great run by this whole FedEx Kinko's Toyota team. We were trying to raise awareness for March of Dimes and I think we did that by running up front tonight. It's encouraging to know how well we ran with this whole team. It was a solid day and we kept improving on it each and every run. That's all you can ask for. We had a winning car there at the end. Great call by Mike (Ford, crew chief) to choose to come in early and take those tires because we had those guys by the neck there at the end if they didn't make it on fuel."
Is your team picking up momentum? "We're running really strong and that's what counts. You try to keep knocking down these top-five finishes, and if you can do that you'll start peaking in the 'Chase' and that's what we want to do."
How was the car handling this evening? "It was extremely hard to pass, but it was like that in the old car. It's not that big of a difference when we come here with these (cars). I think the reason you saw more side by side racing is because we've been here with these cars three times and it's starting to show up."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 10th
TONY STEWART, No. 20 Subway Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 14th
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 18th
How was your race tonight? "We pitted and then the yellow came out, and I thought here we go, more of the same. We were on the tail end of the lead lap and I (figured) we had a fast car but we'll get strung out and probably go 200 laps without a yellow. We got a break and kept working on it. We made it better and then made it worse. We had a pretty bad brake issue there for the last quarter of the race. It kind of hurt us there and I don't know why because we weren't using the brakes that much. I think I gave the guys some bad information with a track bar change and it affected us poorly. All in all it was a decent day and we were able to get done what we needed to get done."
How do you feel about being back in the top-35 in owner points? "I am and it's great to go to the next race and just worry about racing. We'll go there and do that. All we had to do was finish the last couple of races and we'd be 'off to see the wizard' and be in good shape. We'll take them one at a time. All I know is we don't have to worry about (qualifying). We can act like a regular race team now and make our car better for race runs. It's going to be a lot of fun -- I'm looking forward to that."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 24th
How would you evaluate your stint driving the No. 84 Red Bull Camry? "We're gaining on it -- we're making baby steps. I'd like to see us gain on it a lot faster than we did. We took five of my best race tracks and didn't get a really good finish in any of them. This is a work in progress. Talladega is a good place to put AJ (Allmendinger) back in the car -- the handling doesn't come in to play and it's just all car. He'll (AJ) do a good job of drafting for us. I'm not done with this race team. I don't know if I'll be back to drive the car any this year or not. I know that I'm going to be a part of this race team in one capacity or another. It's a project -- and it's an unfinished project. I want to see this team get competitive."
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing Finishing Position: 30th
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 34th
What problems did you face in this evening's race? "We struggled there at the beginning of the race -- which is really tough because once you get a lap down its almost impossible. Then that yellow came out right as we pitted and we lost two laps. So, that really killed our day. You fight hard the rest of the day, but you're only racing two or three cars on your lap. Then, there at the end we were actually going pretty good -- made up some spots and then ran out of fuel and couldn't get it restarted. Kind of worked hard to make up a bunch of ground to lose it all back there at the end. This is racing and the guys worked hard all day. We just have to get going better at the beginning -- that could be me (or) that could be the car -- I'm not really sure. But, we'll keep working on it."
How important is track position at a place like Phoenix? "Track position is so critical. All these guys are so good. It's not easy to pass anybody out there. Even if your car is a little bit better, it's still really tough to pass. We just didn't have the breaks fall our way. Had we got a caution there at the end, we would have made up a couple of our laps. We stretched the fuel a little to far and we paid the price."
What are your expectations for the next few races? "I want to run well. I want to keep this thing in the top-35, and we have to finish races to do that. I don't want to run 30th every weekend."
J.J. YELEY, No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry, Hall of Fame Racing Finishing Position: 39th
What happened to put your race car in the wall on lap 134? "It looked like the 12 (Ryan Newman) blew up right about the dogleg and I'm surprised that NASCAR took so long to throw the caution. I think, if they could have got the caution out quicker, maybe everybody would have slowed down before we drove into (turn) three there at speed and went into an ice-skating rink. I saw it and went to the outside where I'd been running -- I was clear and then I think it was the 41 (Reed Sorenson) that dove below me. (He) must have got in the oil and slipped, hit me in the left rear corner and and got me into the fence. It's definitely not the day we were looking for coming back here to Phoenix. We caught a break there after going a lap down -- we were up to about the 15th or 16th spot and had a pretty good race car. It's going to be a rough day now."
How was the car before the incident? "It was really good. We were just looking slow on the front end of a run, really not horrible, but the car stayed really consistent on the long run. That's what you have to have here at Phoenix. We were hanging in there, biding our time with a lot of laps to go."
-credit: toyota motorsports