Camry driver Denny Hamlin earned a second-place finish in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at the one- and-a-half-mile Texas Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch (11th) led a race high 232 (of 334) laps before he ran out of fuel in the...
Camry driver Denny Hamlin earned a second-place finish in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at the one- and-a-half-mile Texas Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch (11th) led a race high 232 (of 334) laps before he ran out of fuel in the closing laps and had to make a pit stop for fuel ended his attempt at a weekend sweep. He won Friday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series event.
Toyota drivers Marcos Ambrose (15th), David Reutimann (16th), Scott Speed (18th) and Joey Logano (19th) also scored top-20 finishes.
Other Camry drivers in the field included Michael Waltrip (23rd), Brian Vickers (26th), Robby Gordon (27th), David Gilliland (28th), Michael McDowell (41st) and Joe Nemechek (43rd).
Hamlin moved up three spots to eighth in the unofficial NSCS Chase point standings and Vickers is 12th following Texas.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
How were you able to conserve fuel and finish second? "Mike (Ford, crew chief) said we were half a lap to good, even if I ran hard like I did the previous run. I got in the wall and just made a mistake. We struggled on pit road today and really got ourselves back in the pack. Mike (Ford) came through and had a great pit strategy. All those guys were short-pitting and he decided to put our FedEx Office Camry out there for a while. When we decided to pit, it was just in time."
How badly did you need this second-place finish? "We needed it -- we definitely did. Hats off to Mike (Ford, crew chief) and this whole FedEx Office Camry team. We have a really good car, we just had to learn to stay in the pits. W e just lost too many spots on pit road that we couldn't overcome that track position. I was trying to make something happen and got in the wall which ended up killing our car. The good part about that is I was able to save fuel because there was no pressure from behind. I was able to save fuel and our Camry got the best fuel mileage it got all day."
Did the race come to you today at Texas? "(It) played out in our favor, for sure. Usually, these fuel mileage races don't go our way. Obviously, we gained some spots today on the fuel mileage thing. Felt like we had a really, really good car. But, we just hurt ourselves real bad on pit road today. We lost a ton of spots. Track position meaning so much at this race track, it killed us. I was frustrated and we were behind, so I tried to make something happen, got into the wall, and hurt our car. As soon as that happened, we were just in fuel save mode. Luckily, it went green the rest of the way."
Did Jimmie Johnson's early wreck change your race or Chase strategy? "Not mine. I'm so far back, it really didn't matter. I got my three DNFs. It was kind of a moot point for myself. It just shows anything can happen. Just the beginning of the race, guys are antsy -- anything can happen. You never know."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 11th
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How would you describe today? "We're disappointed. This 18 M&M's Toyota Camry deserved to be in victory lane. I thought we had one of the best cars throughout the entire race, but it just didn't work out that way. We were a little short on fuel. We had Kyle (Busch) back down and we thought we'd save enough fuel - we missed the numbers somewhere or we didn't get it full or we didn't pick up all we could pick up. I can't explain why we ran out. We'll take it back to the shop and have a look at it."
Did you and Kyle Busch find the right direction today? "Yeah, definitely. Mike Ford (Denny Hamlin's crew chief) and Greg Zipadelli (Joey Logano's crew chief) helped us out a lot. They gave us a lot of pointers. We unloaded with the same set-up the 11 (Denny Hamlin) car did and worked on it from there. I think we learned a lot today. Right now it's hard to think coherently because of the disappointment we felt, but we're pleased."
How concerned were you with fuel at the end of the race? "Looking at our numbers there and the lap time that he'd (Kyle Busch) fallen off from what we had previously run - I thought for sure that we were going to make it until off turn four in the final lap. I don't know if we didn't get the car full or the fuel cell just didn't pick up what we thought it could, but we had several green flag runs this race so we were pretty confident we knew what we had for fuel mileage. I'm not sure what happened. We'll take it back and we'll look at it, learn from it. We'll try to focus on how well we ran and not where we finished today."
What kind of conversations did you have with Kyle (Busch) during the last few laps? "We were committed to staying out. Like I said before, we're out of the Chase and we're not points racing - we didn't really have anything to lose. If we would have pitted, the 2 car (Kurt Busch) certainly would have beat us. Our only shot at winning it was to stay out. So, we gambled. Sometimes when you gamble you lose. We lost today, but we had a really fast car. I'm really proud of this M&M's Toyota race team and pleased with our effort on the track."
What was Kyle Busch like in the closing laps? "He's (Kyle Busch) frustrated. He didn't say nothing. He said we were out of fuel and after the race, he took his helmet off and went to his motor home and calmed down. I think he handled it well -- it's tough. You lead all these laps and he could have gone for the clean sweep this weekend, win all three in a row. He deserved to win all three in a row and to get beat -- it's tough."
Did you feel a lot of pressure on your first weekend as Kyle Busch's crew chief? "Welcome to the club, hah. You know, it's part of the game. It's what you sign up for. Someone's got to do that job and I raised my hand and said I wanted to do it -- and here I am."
When did you start to save fuel? "He (Kyle Busch) started saving fuel at the very beginning of the (last) run. We were looking at lap times and this was definitely our slowest run of the race. Everyone was saving fuel. When he backed up to the front bumper of the 2 (Kurt Busch) car, that's all he could do. If he slowed down enough to let the 2 car go by then he might as well have pitted. Kyle (Busch) did everything he could do -- just come up short."
Did Kyle Busch want to take a chance and stay out or did he want to pit for fuel? "We didn't really talk about it. I told him (Kyle Busch) my plan was to stay out and he trusted me and it didn't work. You're going to have days like this. It's discouraging for Kyle (Busch), it's hard for myself. We have a lot of our VIPs from our sponsors here as well. There's a lot on the line and today would have been a miracle if we could have won it. It just didn't happen."
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position: 15th
What was the end of the race like for you? "Just really disappointing. I thought we were two laps short so I was trying to save two laps and I just didn't save enough fuel. The guys were screaming on the radio. I guess I didn't realize how close we were on fuel, so I feel pretty bad. We had a strong day. We ran in the top-10 all day and we had a chance to win. I ran out (of fuel)."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael
Finishing Position: 16th
Can you talk about your race? "It was a good race and it ran me out of gas. That's it." Were you involved in the incident with Jimmie Johnson and Sam Hornish, Jr., on lap two? "I got in there underneath the 77 (Sam Hornish, Jr) and he slid up a little bit in the middle and I started underneath there. I don't -- I might have gotten into him there and screwed things up. Didn't have any damage, not that I know of."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 19th
Do you consider Texas a difficult track? "This place sucks. Everyone did a good job and we worked hard all day. I got caught down a lap one time and never had an opportunity to get the 'lucky dog' back. The time we went down a lap we could have waved around and we had 20 laps on our tire already. When we chose to get the 'lucky dog' the air gun broke when we tried to do that. That put us way back there and then of course the caution came out two laps after that. If we would have waved around and the air gun didn't break we probably could have got 'lucky dog' back and gotten on the lead lap. We missed out on that opportunity. As the track cooled off and got more grip we started getting more speed. By the end of the race, our speeds weren't that bad, we were just farther behind from during the day. We have to figure out how to get around these less grip race tracks."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing @Finishing Position: 23rd
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 MAPEI Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
Finishing Position: 27th
DAVID GILLILAND, No. 02 Farm Bureau Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 28th
MICHAEL McDOWELL, No. 36 WAVE Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Tommy Baldwin Racing @Finishing Position: 41st
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finishing Position: 42nd
-credit: toyota motorsports