Camry driver Mark Martin (third) was the first Toyota racer to the finish line in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Delaware's Dover International Speedway.
Toyota Chase drivers Martin Truex Jr. (sixth), Denny Hamlin (eighth) and Clint Bowyer (ninth) all recorded top-10 finishes in the third of 10 races in the championship playoff.
Camry drivers Kyle Busch (seventh) and Joey Logano (10th) also earned top-10s at the one-mile concrete track. Hamlin started the 400-lap race from the pole and led three times for a total of 39 laps. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Busch led a race-high 302 laps.
MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's 2000th Store, Bronx, NY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 3rd
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 6th
Are you pleased with today's result? "Well, it wasn't pretty at the beginning. It was pretty damn pretty at the end. What a crazy day. At the start of the race we were just terrible -- I don't know what it was. Whether it was the first set of tires or what. And, we pitted and made a few changes and you know, of course, we got caught by the caution which got us two laps down. But, at that point right there the car was fast. It was fast all day after that. We just battled -- battled hard. We passed a ton of cars. Obviously, we got a few at the end there cause of the fuel mileage deal. We came from dead last there with the 'lucky dog' the last run and I was catching the 99 (Carl Edwards) -- he was on the lead lap all day. A little bit frustrated. But, all in all, we fought hard today. We showed what we were made of and battled. We were just off at the beginning of the race -- that's all I can say."
How happy are you with the sixth-place finish? "It's a great finish for where we started. We're still kind of confused on what happened there at the beginning with the first set of tires. It was terrible. You know, we went from third -- to I don't even know where we were -- half-a-straightaway from being lapped. Then really the biggest thing that hurt us was the caution. We pitted and the caution came out. We just stayed out three or four more laps we'd have been in good shape. Played catch-up all day, but proud of the guys for sticking with it. When you have days like that you just have to keep fighting and today we kept fighting and came out with a good result."
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How frustrating was the end of the race? "It's frustrating -- really proud of everybody on this Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry. The car was strong all day. Kyle (Busch) did a phenomenal job, but our numbers just said we couldn't make it. All race we're scanning everybody and every time the 2 (Brad Keselowski) or the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) would say they had to pit -- it was five to six laps later than us. I knew they had better fuel mileage than us and I knew if it came down to a fuel mileage race that we were going to be in trouble. We played our best cards and we came up short. There was no doubt that we had the fastest car today."
Could you have adjusted the horsepower to save fuel? "You can definitely do some tuning with your fuel map -- that's an option. We were running more aggressive on power. There were some options to save fuel, but we were on max power today. It bit us a little bit -- we had a fast car though."
How is your fuel mapping determined? "We have options in our fuel maps so we can elect to run more fuel, less fuel -- same as a carburetor. You can jet your carburetor to run lean or run rich. It's the same choice as it was last year. We could have made some different choices. Every now and then you have a fuel mileage race. I didn't think this was going to come down to it so we went full power. I'm not going to second guess our call -- it was the right call. The car was fast."
Was the setup in the 18 similar to the one in the 11? "We had completely different packages. Both cars come from the Joe Gibbs Racing stables. I think it says a lot about the cars that are being built. We were really excited for the Chase because we knew that the guys at the shop built us a tremendous fleet. We knew that coming into this Chase, we were going to have the strongest cars we've ever had. You're seeing it on the race track. I think the Gibbs cars were the best two cars last week at Loudon and I think we were the best two cars this week at Dover. I think that's a testimony to how good our race cars are -- with the engineering staff, the fabricators, the mechanics and what they are building at the shop. As far as the suspension packages, it was black and white -- we were way different, but both cars were really fast."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 8th
How do you feel about fuel mileage impacting the end of the race? "It's so frustrating. It's like all the hard work that you do -- it just doesn't pay off. Same thing at Richmond, we just didn't have the fuel mileage. We choose to have the horsepower over the fuel mileage and some guys don't tune that way. When you have a race-winning car you don't want to give up any of the horsepower. It's frustrating. They're not going to beat us on the track -- that's just plain and simple. We're just too fast right now and I feel like everything is going well. These strategy games and the way these cautions are falling, it's ill-timed. These cautions fly when some people can and some people can't make it. It's messing everything up. We need to improve our fuel mileage, we know that and we'll work on that as much as anything. For me, I'm not too discouraged because we ran our ass off today."
Did you want to gamble on fuel mileage today? "If we weren't going to make it, we weren't going to make it. There was no sense in us gambling and going several laps down. This fuel mileage game sucks. All the hard work that you put in -- drove as hard as I could drive for 400 laps and then it's like you look up and wonder why we're eighth. That part of it is frustrating, but it's just some people have different strategies. Some people have better fuel mileage, but not as good of a handling race car. I'll take good-handling race cars and good horsepower any day. Right now, between Richmond and here, it's costing us a lot of spots. Still, top-10 day on a race track like this and to battle for the win all day -- I'm not going to complain."
Are you concerned about being 16 points out of the Chase lead? "We can handle that -- no problem. Like I say, there's nothing we can't handle on the race track. I think our performance today is a testament to where we're heading."
Do you have momentum for Talladega? "Next week is an absolute crap shoot, but it's going to be for everyone. We have to know who we're racing. We have to make smart decisions and keep all the fenders on it. Typically, most superspeedways I'm right in it until the very end and get caught up in a wreck. My job next week is to make sure to concentrate on that weekend, not look forward and focus on getting the most points possible."
BRIAN PATTIE, crew chief, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How was today's race? "We just didn't have the mileage to go there until the end. Our car was burning the right rear tire off too soon. So, when you do that, you just fall off the pace so bad. It kind of stinks. This team wants to run top-five every week, and ninth-place isn't good enough. We'll go to Talladega and hopefully shake them up there."
Source: Toyota Motorsports