Dave Blaney was the highest-finishing Camry driver at Talladega Superspeedway, finishing third in the No. 22 Caterpillar Camry. It is the best finish for a Toyota in NNCS competition (Brian Vickers -- fifth at Charlotte). Jacques Villeneuve...
Dave Blaney was the highest-finishing Camry driver at Talladega Superspeedway, finishing third in the No. 22 Caterpillar Camry. It is the best finish for a Toyota in NNCS competition (Brian Vickers -- fifth at Charlotte). Jacques Villeneuve finished 21st in the No. 27 Unicef Camry in his first-career NNCS start, followed by David Reutimann (22nd) in the No. 00 Burger King Camry. Camry drivers Michael Waltrip (25th), Brian Vickers (39th) and Dale Jarrett (41st) were also in Sunday's field. Waltrip started from the pole, the second pole for Toyota in the Cup Series (Blaney -- New Hampshire).
Camrys led a total of 17 laps at Talladega, with Vickers (eight laps led), Waltrip (six), Reutimann (two) and Blaney (one) all spending time at the front of the field. Five Camrys started among the first six cars in Sunday's race. Waltrip and Blaney (second) shared the front row, while Vickers (third) and Reutimann (fifth) posted their best qualifying efforts of the season. Villeneuve qualified sixth.
JACQUES VILLENEUVE, No. 27 Unicef Camry, Bill Davis Racing Finished: 21st
Can you talk about your first NNCS race? "Early in the race was tough for some reason. I was really tight. I almost ran into a couple of people on the inside line because of that. I didn't want that to happen, so I moved up to the high line. That's why I got into the wall. On one of the big wrecks, I slammed on the brakes and went down to the apron, but got sandwiched between a couple of cars. I lost the shifter ball and the radio plug came loose, and I lost third gear on the last restart. So we had a lot of things going on. It was a great day to learn. I'm quite happy with the result."
What will you take away most from your first start? "I'm glad that I didn't create any problems with the drivers. The finger was being pointed before the race, and that was understandable. The goal today was to stay out of trouble and not make enemies so next time I come back everything will be a little bit easier. Also, I worked great with the crew and the spotter. Overall, it was a great experience."
When did you decide to move to the back of the field for the start? "We decided to do it this morning. It was the logical thing to do. Our car was set up for qualifying and we didn't know how it was going to handle. Starting from the front or the back doesn't really change anything. I had more to learn from the back, anyway. Also, it was to show respect to all the guys fighting for the 'Chase.' I was thankful for them allowing me to race here, which is really special to me. It was just a way of saying 'thank you.'"
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finished: 25th
What happened that caused your flat tire? "I'm not sure what exactly happened. I think I just ran over something because the inside of the tire was fine. I brushed the wall on that big crash, and I though something was rubbing, but the guys said it was nothing. And then, with no warning, it went flat. I was having fun and I thought I was in pretty good shape, but it was not to be. It was unfortunate for the NAPA Camry. The car was good. It was fun to be up front again. It is a much better view from up there."
How much of the team's success is a testament to Dr. Eric Warren (MWR Technical Director)? "It's a testament to a team that was ready to have some help. We worked really hard to get into a position where when somebody like Dr. Warren showed up, we were ready to take that help and run with it. Our guys have done a tremendous amount of work -- and Toyota has as well -- to get us to the point now where we feel good about where we are. If we had Dr. Warren six months ago, we might not know what to do with me. We feel comfortable about what we're doing."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Burger King Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finished: 22nd
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Camry, Team Red ull Finished: 39th
DALE JARRETT, No. 44 UPS Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finished: 41st
-credit: toyota motorsports