KAHNE TAMED DARLINGTON: In Saturday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) at Darlington Raceway, Kasey Kahne earned his first NCWTS win in a Tundra. Kahne drove the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) Tundra at the historic South Carolina track because the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) had the weekend off. The 30-year-old started second in the KBM No. 18 entry and led 95 (of 147) laps at the 1.366- mile egg-shaped oval to earn his third career NCWTS win in four career starts. In addition to Kahne, three other Tundra drivers earned top-10s in Saturday night’s race -- Todd Bodine (third), Timothy Peters (sixth) and David Starr (10th).
BREAK OUT THE BROOM: Camry driver Kyle Busch made NASCAR history last August at Bristol Motor Speedway when he became the first driver to sweep all three races -- NCWTS, NNS and NSCS -- at one race track in a single weekend. Busch has more NSCS victories at Bristol (four) than at any other track, as well as two NNS wins and three NCWTS victories at the half-mile Tennessee oval.
SHORT TRACK SUCCESS: The races at Bristol Motor Speedway mark the first short track event of the 2011 season for NSCS and NNS teams. Last year, Camry drivers earned three (of four) wins at half-mile short tracks with Denny Hamlin visiting victory lane in both races at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway and his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Busch earning the win at Bristol Motor Speedway in the summer.
TENNESSEE TIES: Two Toyota team members call Tennessee home. Mike Ford, crew chief for the No. 11 Camry driven by Hamlin, is from Morristown, Tenn. Charlie Brock, car chief on the NNS JGR No. 18 Camry, is from Brentwood, Tenn. Brock is the grandson of legendary racer ‘Red’ Farmer -- an original member of ‘The Alabama Gang.’
TOYOTA TALLIES TENNESSEE TROPHIES: Since becoming a NASCAR manufacturer in 2004, Toyota has found success in all three of NASCAR’s national touring series. Tennessee has been a state where Camry drivers have earned an abundant amount of success, including three NSCS victories at Bristol Motor Speedway. Camry racers have also been victorious at three Tennessee tracks in the Nationwide Series -- Bristol (one win), Memphis Motorsports Park (two wins) and Nashville Superspeedway (two wins). Tundra drivers have earned a total of 12 first-place trophies in the ‘Volunteer State’ across three race tracks -- Bristol (five wins), Memphis (two wins) and Nashville (two wins).
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for two top -five results, seven top-10 finishes and have led 66 laps … After three races, two Toyota drivers are in the top-10 in the NSCS point standings -- Martin Truex Jr. (seventh) and Denny Hamlin (eighth) are both 18 points behind leader Tony Stewart … Kasey Kahne (13th), Kyle Busch (14th) and Bobby Labonte (15th) are also in the top-15 in the standings after three races … … Joey Logano became the youngest pole-winner (19 years old) in NSCS history last March at Bristol.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How satisfying was it to sweep all three races at Bristol last August? “It was pretty cool because when you come so close and then don’t get it, it’s pretty frustrating. I mean, in 2009 we won the Truck race and were leading the Nationwide race and we crashed out, and then we ended up winning the Cup race. So, it was probably a year delayed. It was pretty special. It was cool to be able to put it all together in a complete weekend, with the Truck, the Nationwide car and the Cup car.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
What does it take to be successful at Bristol? “We’ve run well there, but we haven’t run as good as we wanted. We ran second there last year. We just have a good program for there. Bristol is just like any other race track, you just need to stay out of trouble and sometimes it’s a little bit more difficult at Bristol to stay out of trouble than other race tracks. In the end, we’ll try to be there at the end and make sure our car turns good. Now, with the new surface you can run the top of the race track and the bottom. Even if you are a little tight, you can get away with running the top and still make some pretty good ground.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (continued)
What would it mean if you won a race at Bristol? “It would be amazing. That place is just phenomenal. The atmosphere is so charged with all the people that are there and the design of the place. To win a race at Bristol -- it would rank right up there with winning Daytona for me.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How do you feel about the start of the season? “The potential is there for us all to have a great season and so we’re excited about that. My engineer Chad Johnson and my crew chief Pat Tryson -- everyone is just really doing a great job right now and we know some areas that we need to improve and everybody is working hard on those areas. We just need to go out there and do all of the little things right and not make any mistakes. If we can do that, we’ll just keep stacking up points and knocking on the door to victory lane. I’m pretty excited. It has been a great start to our season and everybody is doing so well. The sky is the limit for this team. It’s great that we’re getting to show it early in the season.”
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Are you looking forward to racing at Bristol? “Bristol is a great track -- I love going there. I’ve had some good runs and wadded a few up. I feel confident in these guys -- they had a good run there last year and the year before. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, that will fit our style with 500 laps there. You have to be aggressive, but it’s a long race and I think the program for the team is really good. I’d like to add my experience, hopefully that will help.”
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for one win, one top-five result, eight top-10 finishes and have led 351 laps … Kenny Wallace (eighth, -27) is the top Toyota driver in the NNS point standings … Brian Scott (11th), Steve Wallace (14th) and Michael Annett (15th) are also in the top-15 in the standings … Kyle Busch earned the first NNS win for a Camry at Bristol last August.
JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Can you continue the streak of leading all the laps in the race that the team began at Phoenix? “To try and keep that record intact, you’re probably not going to attempt it at Bristol. I’ll be happy if we can just go there and run well with the new car and be in contention to maybe get a win. To try to go there and think we could lead all the laps, I think we’d be kidding ourselves. We’ve run well there the last two or three years with the old car. Hopefully, we can just keep that momentum going. Kyle (Busch) runs well there in the (Sprint) Cup car, so maybe some of their stuff will apply to the Nationwide car.”
What are the biggest differences between the old Nationwide Series car and the new car that will be used at Bristol? “The biggest thing we have to focus on is the difference between the splitter and the valence. The splitter is a solid stop -- you can’t go past it. But, you want to get to it. The valence -- you wanted to get to it but, because of the material it was made of and the way it was designed, you had some flexibility there. You could go a little beyond it -- you could go short of it a little bit and be okay. So, the splitter is probably the number one difference that requires us to shift our setup around. The second thing would be that this car has quite a bit more drag on it. The third thing would probably be the approach you have to take, because the center of gravity is so much higher with these cars than it was with the old cars. So, you have to take a different approach with the setup and a little bit of a different thought process to get things working for you. The fourth thing, and the thing we’ll be focusing on heading into Bristol, is probably the brake package. Because the center of gravity is higher and makes the car a little more difficult to turn, you have to slow it down a little bit more.”
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): Since the start of the 2011 NCWTS season , Tundra drivers have registered three wins , six top-five results, nine top-10 finishes and have led 215 laps … Seven Toyota drivers are currently in the top-15 in the NCWTS points after three of 25 races -- Timothy Peters (third), Todd Bodine (seventh), Max Papis (ninth), Miguel Paludo (12th), David Starr (13th), Craig Goess (14th) and Justin Lofton (15th) … The NCWTS will enjoy two weeks off before returning to action on April 2 at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway.
KASEY KAHNE, No. 18 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Was winning the goal for the Darlington race weekend? “I went to Darlington wanting to win -- that was the plan. This is a tough series. These guys do an awesome job. That restart with Todd (Bodine) near the end of the race -- our truck was really good once I could get rolling. He tried to get me all the way up to the wall and I think he got himself loose by trying to squish me into the wall. We had a good run down the back and some good laps after that. It was a solid run. I have to thank Kyle Busch for letting me drive and the whole team. The guys do such a good job and it was a lot of fun driving for them and working with Eric (Phillips, crew chief), Rick Ren (general manager) and all the guys.”