Toyota drivers: Daytona 500 post-race notes and quotes

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Two Camry drivers are currently in the top-10 in the unofficial NSCS point standings -- Hamlin (second) and Kenseth (sixth).

Denny Hamlin (second) was the highest-finishing Toyota in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) rain-delayed Daytona 500. Hamlin crossed the finish line behind winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the race which was delayed for six hours and 22 minutes due to rain.

Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin
Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

It was Hamlin’s best finish in the Daytona 500. His previous best result was a fourth-place finish in 2012.

The second-place result was the best finish by a Camry driver in the Daytona 500. The previous best results by Camry drivers were third-place finishes in 2008 (Tony Stewart) and 2013 (Mark Martin).

Camry driver Matt Kenseth registered a sixth-place finish in the 500-mile event.

Kyle Busch (19), Hamlin (16) and Michael Waltrip (four) all led laps in the race.

Two Camry drivers are currently in the top-10 in the unofficial NSCS point standings -- Hamlin (second) and Kenseth (sixth).

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (Finishing Position: 2nd)

How would you describe the closing laps? “Well, it was intense for me. I had no spotter. Our radios weren’t working after we went back green after the rain so just had to wing it on my own really for the most part after we went back. If I cut anyone off I’m sorry, just trying to do it out there on my own.”

How was tonight’s racing? “It was intense. Everyone was content not to run the top line, which was good. I thought for sure we’d wreck more cars, but still that was a great race for the fans. It was a great race from my standpoint. It was just so hard to pass -- similar to when we got out front. You can block your way to a victory, and really Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) just played it perfectly once he got out front on that last fuel run -- everyone else is just side by side and you really can’t make any moves.”

Is tonight’s result disappointing? “There’s a lot to be disappointed about, but there’s a lot to be happy about. After we came back from the rain my radios weren’t working so I had to wing it those last 150 laps on my own. With not having a spotter there on that last green-white-checkered I didn’t know whether to back up more. They give us vital information for you to get runs so that’s why we kind of lost our luster after we came back after the rain. But, it was just me trying not to wreck anyone, trying not to get into any trouble, trying to spot all six corners by myself. Still a great run, but I am a little disappointed.”

How tough was it not having a spotter? “It’s tough. I wasn’t going to pit for a radio, that’s for sure. We had to keep all of the track position we could so tried to do the best we could with what we had.”

How do you feel with a second-place finish in the Daytona 500? “I feel good. It was a solid run for us. We didn’t have the speed that we had before the rain came. I thought -- the Duels and the Unlimited -- I felt like our car didn’t have quite the speed. But, for some reason, whether guys picked up their intensity, it was tougher to pass out there. Once the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) sat out front, similar to what we did once we got out front of the two races, you can kind of block your way to a victory as long as nothing crazy happens. It was well played by those guys and really it was a fun race.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (Finishing Position: 6th)

How was tonight’s race? “It was just kind of a normal restrictor plate race I guess, besides the beginning where I spun on pit road and got us behind. After that, it was just normal plate racing. You have to get a line to go and then you don’t. Just all we could do -- just one of them days. The last two years we’ve had really dominant cars -- we could just go up there and lead at will and stay up there. I just didn’t quite have that. I almost got to the front one time with the 99 (Carl Edwards) and then got stuck with the 16 (Greg Biffle) and got our line slowed down and we were done. I just never got a chance to get back there.”

Are you disappointed? “No. For the way the whole week went and we finished sixth -- it could be a lot worse than that. I’m glad Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. got the win -- he needed that. That was good for him and Denny (Hamlin) -- Denny was super fast all week and it looks like he almost pulled it off too.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (Finishing Position: 19th)

DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What happened during the race and with the pit stop penalty? “I’m proud of the 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry group. We worked hard. We got behind there. Our pit crew is one of the best in the business -- I stand behind them and they do a great job for us. On one of our green flag pit stops a hose got hooked underneath the left rear quarter and when Kyle (Busch) took off it pulled the pit gun out of my changers’ hand and it brought the equipment outside of the pit box -- so we had to serve a stop-and-go penalty, which really put us behind. Kyle did a good job of keeping the nose clean and racing hard, racing for the ‘lucky dog’ spot.

It took awhile for it to come out, but it finally came out. We got the lucky dog and then Kyle raced up to the front. We had a shot at the front there on the closing laps and Denny (Hamlin) just got a really good run on us. On one hand you want your teammate to stick behind you and try to push two Gibbs cars to the front, but I think Denny had such a heck of a run that he may have wrecked us if he did.

He went to the bottom and he was trying to win the Daytona 500 -- don’t blame him there and we got shuffled back after that and contact with the 4 (Kevin Harvick) car ended our day. All three Joe Gibbs Racing cars had good speed. We executed fairly well -- had the mishap on pit road, but that’s going to happen. Overall, a good weekend.”

ALEX BOWMAN, No. 23 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing (Finishing Position: 23rd)

COLE WHITT, No. 26 Speed Stick Gear Toyota Camry, Swan Racing (Finishing Position: 28th)

PARKER KLIGERMAN, No. 30 Swan Energy Toyota Camry, Swan Racing (Finishing Position: 29th)

BRIAN VICKERS, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (Finishing Position: 30th)

How was your Daytona 500? “We had a good car, but just got caught up in one of the wrecks. A couple of those guys were just racing really aggressive and bouncing around, moving a lot. I knew it was a matter of time. There were a couple of times right before those last two wrecks that I thought about dropping back out of the pack. I had a feeling that they were coming -- the one we avoided and the one we were in. The problem was there was no second pack to go to.

Our fear was if we drop back that we would go a lap down as much as the race had been going green. We were kind of stuck there. We had good track position and raced well most of the day and then there at the end we just lost a little bit of track position the last two sequences -- lost a few spots on the green flag stop. We were still 10th or 12th or something like that. Then when we came in to top-off and try to make it to the end of the race and that put us back in 17th. From there, we ended up just getting stuck back there two and three wide.

Ran out of track position and ran out of a little bit of luck. We had a good car and we came a long ways from the way we were in the 150s -- we ran good all day. I think if we hadn’t got caught in the wreck then we would have been okay. We had fuel to go to the end and a lot of guys didn’t. But we did get caught in it. All the guys on the Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota worked hard to get the car better and I think we had a shot at it. We just needed to get through a few of those wrecks and be there at the end.”

MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 66 Blue-Def/AAA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (Finishing Position: 41st)

What was the racing like tonight? “When cars are grippy, people are crazy -- they like to go. The cars are real grippy under the night sky and the cool temperatures, so there’s a lot of lanes and people are trying to use everyone them. It’s a great race for the fans and it was really fun to be out there and to be a part of it. I know how intense it’s going to get as we race toward lap 200 and I wanted to be up in the middle of it. I hate my night’s over.”

What did you see start the accident? “I saw the cars get together ahead of me and I let off the gas and was coasting under control and someone behind me wasn’t. I’m not really sure what car started it, but a black one ended it for me -- ran me over pretty hard. It was fun racing with the leaders. I stayed in touch with the lead pack and I know this battle to the finish is going to be intense and I wanted to get the old Peak/Blue-Def Toyota right up in the middle of it. Luckily, I’ve got AAA so I’m going to file a claim and we’ll be able to fix this baby up and have it at Talladega in a couple months.”

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (Finishing Position: 42nd)

What happened to take you out of the race? “It’s just a frustrating day first from the rain -- if it was going to blow up, I wish it would have blown up four hours ago. I could have been home watching. Just disappointing -- the guys work so hard for this race. Everybody is out there having fun and we broke our toy.”

Toyota Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Race reports
Tags alex bowman, brian vickers, clint bowyer, cole whitt, dave rogers, daytona 500, denny hamlin, kyle busch, matt kenseth, michael waltrip, nascar-cup, parker kligerman