Camry drivers Marcos Ambrose (third) and Denny Hamlin (fifth) were the highest-finishing Toyotas in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Infineon Raceway. Patrick Carpentier (11th) and Max Papis (12th) also earned a top-15 finishes...
Camry drivers Marcos Ambrose (third) and Denny Hamlin (fifth) were the highest-finishing Toyotas in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Infineon Raceway.
Patrick Carpentier (11th) and Max Papis (12th) also earned a top-15 finishes in Sonoma.
Brian Vickers finished 16th in his Toyota after starting from the pole - his fifth of 2009.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Joey Logano (19th), Kyle Busch (22nd), David Reutimann (31st), Robby Gordon (36th), Scott Speed (37th), Dave Blaney (42nd) and PJ Jones (43rd).
Three Camry drivers (Vickers-1st, Busch-2nd, Ambrose-3rd) from three different teams qualified in the top-three starting spots for Sunday's NSCS race. The last time three Toyotas qualified together in the top-three was Talladega, Oct. 2007.
Five Camry drivers are in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS driver points -- Hamlin (seventh), Busch (ninth), Reutimann (14th), Vickers (17th) and Ambrose (18th).
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie-Kingsford-Clorox Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
What was the team's attitude coming into the race? "We went from zero to hero. That's what our team is all about -- we never give up. JTG-Daugherty and Michael Waltrip Racing have been so good to me. They give me great stuff, great support. Even when I'm having a bad day, they rally around and give me the confidence to do what I have to do on the race track. I'm pleased we were able to give them another top five."
How were you able to overcome having to start from the back of the field? "I was mad, I wasn't down, I was just angry. We had a chance to win the race and I thought maybe it had been taken from us. But we fought hard, we tried some strategy that was a little oddball, but it worked out in our favor. We passed a lot of cars. I reckon we passed the field three times over today. We just didn't quite have enough to get those two guys in front of us. But I'm proud of what we did as a team and where we finished."
Can you tell us about your run? "I thought I was at Eldora all day. It was just really slippery. Those rear tires just didn't have a lot of forward grip. It's fast on the roll, but just getting the power to the ground is hard. We've got a lot of power in these Cup cars, and you've got your work cut out for you. I was hot, I was mad, I was happy, I was sad all together. I'm just proud of my team, JTG-Daugherty, having trusted me to drive their car, and took a chance putting me in. No one really knew what I was all about, and I just want to thank them. I thank Michael Waltrip Racing, too, for giving us great support, just an awesome combination right now, great group of guys. We had a bad day yesterday. We were in the hole pretty good. They just rallied around me and gave me the support I needed, the confidence to go out there today to just get aggressive and get to it and not skip a beat.
Is your finish a result of your determination and resolve? "I even cut myself shaving this morning. That's how bad this weekend has gone. We've just got a resilient attitude, never-say-die attitude, and when you're having a bad day -- we made it worse yesterday in happy hour, whatever happened there, and just really proud of my guys for giving me the support that I needed and the car that I needed to do what we did today. You know, it's just a tough world, the Cup racing scene. There is no easy lap, there is no easy day. It's intense, especially those restarts, and just really just never give up. I knew what to expect, unfortunately, from Watkins Glen last year. That was a long day, and I think today was just as long if not longer. I think the car is sort of straight. Sort of. Most of the damage is in the front and side. There's not too much in the back, which is a good sign."
Did the cautions play in your favor for pit strategy? "We'll have to look back and see how it all played out. I felt like I passed 200 cars, so maybe it didn't (laughter). Our plan was just to get going, see how far I could get up there, and then if I was getting held up too long, just come in and get out of there. I was just so worried about when they were all getting wadded up and the tires are down, just so easy to get damage and not really show any speed. I just complained and whined on the radio until they said, yeah, come on in, get some tires, let's go, and we just got out of sequence. We ran a heavy fuel strategy, too. We ran a lot of fuel today trying to set ourselves up to pass cars, and we didn't have the fuel mileage that many others had. So we knew we couldn't do it just on stretching fuel mileage, so we had to do it on speed. So just getting clean air, staying out of all that riff-raff I think played -- at least got us to lap 70 before we really got back in the pack again, and I think that helped.
Were the final restarts intense for you? "Intense. It's no fun. I mean, we had like the downhill to go before the white flag, and we were going to finish it, and then the caution comes out for the green-white-checker. You know that you can go from 3rd to 33rd with one mistake after putting in all that effort all day. I think all of us just wanted to bring it home somehow, and you know, I really wanted to attack Smoke. He deserved second. I wasn't going to take it off him unless I had a clean pass. I just couldn't get to his bumper bar in time. Jimmie was peppering my bumper. Just bring it home; that's all I was thinking. You can go so pear-shaped on those restarts, just for the result, one lap to go, you're running 3rd to 33rd, I just didn't want to take that chance. It's very much a pressure environment when it's like that.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
What are your thoughts on today's race? "It was a solid day. We started back there pretty far so all in all it was a good day for our FedEx Office Camry. I led some laps and we had a car to contend for the win, just had a slow pit stop right there on the last one. It could be a couple things, slow pit stop or me getting on pit road slow. We need to figure out where we lost five or six seconds there and that was the race for the win."
What happened on that last pit stop? "I'm proud of the whole FedEx Office team. We had that slow pit stop on the last stop and it allowed the 9 (Kasey Kahne) and the 14 (Tony Stewart) to go out right in front of us and that was the race for the win. I knew it was as soon as I saw them pull off pit road. They had a little bit fresher tires, so for us to hang on to fifth with old tires that's pretty good."
Are you comfortable with where you are in the points right now? "Its solid days like this where you can't think about wins in the points position that we're in right now. We're trying to gain points over that 13th place - that's the most important thing for us is to make that fourth consecutive 'Chase' for us. Once we do that then maybe we can think about taking chances but right now it's all about getting points."
What did you think of all the double file restarts? "It was tough. It's tough to tell what lane you wanted to be in but everyone was just running into each other and it was getting kind of crazy. I'm sure the fans liked it, it looked good from my standpoint."
PATRICK CARPENTIER, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 11th
How was your race today? "It was great, I truly enjoyed it. It was amazing and we were able to get Michael (Waltrip) some points and had a good show with NAPA. The guys did an amazing job, the pit stops were great and the car was fast. Man, that engine was fast. We ran it clean all day and it was very fast. We struggled a little bit with our car but at the end I got it in too high of a gear when I was trying to restart and the RPM was too low but once I started picking it up then it was pretty good. I'm really happy."
Did you accomplish what you set out to in today's race? "I wanted for me top 10 just coming in over the weekend. I'm using Marcos (Ambrose) seat and everything. I was hoping top 10, I thought that would be pretty good. You always want to be more ahead than that but 11th is pretty good. We got spun out, got back last and then came back again. I'm pretty happy."
MAX PAPIS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
Finishing Position: 12th
Were you happy with your race results today? "We had a fantastic race. We fought all race long and I improved in every restart I got some position. On the green-white- checkered I attacked and went up to seventh and I'm not so sure who punted me from the back. They punctured my right rear getting into turn one with one to go and that cost me my three or four spots. I achieved the goal I wanted, I wanted to improve my best ever finish so far with this team and we did it. I'm very proud of all the guys. This is as much of a team effort as anything else because they put me up there from the back -- the team put me up there with the strategy -- and I finished it off
How was your race car? "The car was really good. The guys did a great job with the car. We were really fast, especially on the short run. The 18 (Kyle Busch) looked like he had a lot softer springs in the rear and in the long run he just had better forward drive at the end of a run. They got by us but the biggest thing that hurt us was the 18 wrecking the 77 (Sam Hornish Jr) and wrecking himself. Him and I both were sitting in great positions with great strategy. I don't know what he was thinking. That was stupid. He had no reason to be racing the 77 that hard and wreck him and wreck himself and when he wrecked himself, when he took back off, he drilled us in the door and cut a right rear down, closed our pipes off which ended up blowing the motor so we were down 100 or 200 horsepower the rest of the race. We made the most of it and finished 16th because we had a good car but we just can't catch a break."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 19th
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's-Transformers Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 22nd
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 31st
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 Menards-Jim Beam Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
Finishing Position: 36th
SCOTT SPEED, No. 87 Nemco Motorsports-Red Bull Toyota Camry, Nemco Motorsports
Finishing Position: 37th
DAVE BLANEY, No. 66 Prism Motorsports Toyota Camry, Prism Motorsports
Finishing Position: 42nd
PJ JONES, No. 04 Jim Beam-Menards Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
Finishing Position: 43rd
-credit: toyota motorsports