TOYOTA NASCAR NOTES & QUOTESWeek of March 21-27 , 2011
BUSCH BREAKS OUT BRISTOL BROOM: Camry driver Kyle Busch swept last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) races at Bristol Motor Speedway -- his second consecutive 'sweep' of a race weekend at the Tennessee track. In his two wins, the Las Vegas-native led 153 (of 500) NSCS laps and 152 (of 300) NNS laps. Following his two race victories this past weekend, along with victories in the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series last August at Bristol -- Busch has now earned five consecutive NASCAR wins at the Bristol track.
CALIFORNIA CHRONICLES: Toyota drivers have earned two NSCS poles at Auto Club Speedway -- Brian Vickers (Feb. 2009) and Denny Hamlin (Oct. 2009). Other current Toyota drivers with previous poles and race wins at the two- mile Fontana, Calif., race track include Busch (pole in Feb. 2005 and win in Sept. 2005), Kasey Kahne (pole in April 2004 and win in Sept. 2006), Bobby Labonte (pole in 2001) and Vickers (pole in Sept. 2004).
BAKERSFIELD BOY: Germain Racing's Casey Mears, a native of Bakersfield, heads home to California this week. The 33-year-old driver of the No. 13 GEICO Camry is in his ninth full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series and his racing resume includes -- one NSCS victory (Charlotte, 2007), one NNS triumph (Chicagoland, 2006), one Rolex 24 Hours win (2006) and three ARCA checkered flags (Michigan and two Pocono, 2003). At Auto Club Speedway, Mears has two top-10 NSCS results, a NNS pole (2004) and a fourth-place finish in open-wheel cars (2000).
CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Camry drivers have swept the last six consecutive Nationwide Series races at Auto Club Speedway. In 2008, Tony Stewart won the first NNS race for Joe Gibbs Racing in a Camry. A year later (2009), Joey Logano visited victory lane. The remaining four wins have been by Busch behind the wheel of a Camry -- in 2008 (Aug.), 2009 (Feb.) and 2010 (Feb. and Oct.). In those six races between 2008 and 2010, Camry drivers combined to lead more than 75 percent of the race laps (695 of 904 total laps).
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for one victory, three top-five results, nine top-10 finishes and have led 282 laps ... After four races, three Toyota drivers are in the top-12 in the NSCS point standings -- Kyle Busch (sixth, -17), Martin Truex Jr. (10th, -27) and Kasey Kahne (12th, -28) ... Bobby Labonte (14th) and Denny Hamlin (17th) are also in the top-20 in the standings ... Three Toyota pit crew members hail from southern California -- rear tire changer Chad Avrit (No. 4 Red Bull Camry) is from El Centro, engine tuner Earl Averill (No. 83 Red Bull Camry) is from Moreno Valley, and hauler driver Frank Hodel (No. 11 FedEx Office Camry) is from Blythe.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Are you more concerned with racing for wins or points as it relates to this year's championship? "I think that racing to your potential on most days will get you a win, so you don't really have to worry about that. It seems like we're a lot better at a couple race tracks than maybe some others that we're working on and getting better at. One of those is coming -- we're always like a fifth- to ninth-place car. Hopefully we can get a little bit better than that at California. Michigan is another one. Some of those places we struggle at a little bit, we'd like to get better. Every time we unload, we're racing for the win. If we can gather the wins up, the points will take care of themselves. If we can finish consistently, points will take care of themselves. It's a matter of keeping track of your bad days."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Do you enjoy racing at Auto Club Speedway? "We've run good there the past couple times. I love it -- I think it's a cool race track. It's fun to race there. There's not much grip and you can move around anywhere you want. It's similar to Michigan, but also very different at the same time. It's a fun race for us. It's a bummer we're only going there once, but I'm still looking forward to it."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
What do you like about racing and qualifying at Auto Club Speedway? "I don't know of anything in particular. It's a big sweeping type race track and my guys do a good job preparing for that qualifying and stuff. I don't know that it's anything that I'm doing. We just seem to have a decent package, as far as qualifying goes there. We've run okay in the past at that race track too."
Do you highlight the Auto Club Speedway race based on the success of MWR's intermediate program? "I like a lot of the bigger race tracks. I like California, but I don't so much like Michigan and those tracks are really, really similar as far as the overall layout is concerned. They definitely drive differently and they act differently. The bigger race tracks -- the mile- and-a-halves and the bigger race tracks, we seem to have a good baseline deal and we seem to go well there. I always look forward to going to those places. I look forward to going almost everywhere, but the bigger race tracks I think are some places that we really seem to accelerate at and excel at. We work really hard on the race tracks that we're not as good at to get better, but the intermediate tracks seem to be suiting our program right now."
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for two wins , three topfive results, 10 top-10 finishes and have led 619 laps ... Kenny Wallace (seventh, -31) is the top Toyota driver in the NNS point standings after four races ... Brian Scott (10th), Steve Wallace (13th) and Michael Annett (15th) are also in the top-15 in the standings ... Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 Camry team leads the NNS owner point standings, just ahead of another JGR entry, the No. 20 Camry (-2 points) ... Camry drivers have five NNS poles at Auto Club Speedway -- Dave Blaney (Feb. 2007), Kyle Busch (Aug. 2008 and Oct. 2010) and Joey Logano (Oct. 2009 and Feb. 2010) ... Crew chief Jerry Baxter (No. 99 Pastrana- Waltrip Camry) is originally from San Diego.
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What makes Joe Gibbs Racing so strong at Auto Club Speedway in the Nationwide Series? "I think our old cars were really good, and that place really just played into our hand on what we focus on the most. I think aero is one of those things that we're really good with. Now it's a whole new ball game so I don't know what we're going to have. That race will be a lot like Michigan was last year with a lot of drafting down the straightaways. It will be an interesting race to watch, especially on restarts. There's going to be a lot of crazy racing."
BRIAN SCOTT, No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Are you looking forward to racing at Auto Club Speedway? "I'm really excited going to California. I feel like it's one of my better tracks. If you look at last year -- that was the first place that we had a really strong run. It was the second race of the season and we ran second most of the race behind my now, current teammate of Joey Logano. We had a really good car. I like the place. Really pays off the high line -- it's a difficult line to run, but if you can run it then it pays off. I feel like I've got the race track figured out and I feel like I'm with a team now that has the equipment even more figured out. I think we can be a deadly combination at California."
Are there benefits to having teammates that are only focused on Nationwide Series wins? "It's been a tremendous benefit for me to have teammates like Kyle Busch and Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin -- guys that are on the Cup side and going for the wins. How they are approaching practice and how they approach a race is different and more experienced. To see one, for myself, what they're doing and be able to talk to them after the runs. Two, for the team and for Kevin (Kidd, crew chief) to be able to communicate with their crew chiefs and know that if they were going for a championship then we probably wouldn't do this, but we're going to roll the dice. It allows different strategies to play out and it allows us to have better information, better data and everything for when we go back to race tracks a second time. We can see what risks worked or didn't so then we can create a better game plan."
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 has another week off before returning to action on April 2 at Virginia's Martinsville Speedway.
-source: toyota motorsports