TOYOTA NASCAR NOTES & QUOTES
Week of March 28-April 3, 2011
CAMRYS IN CALIFORNIA: Camry driver Kyle Busch almost registered a ‘sweep’ of the NASCAR races at California’s Auto Club Speedway -- leading 285 of the weekend’s 350 laps of racing action. Busch picked up a win in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) event and fell just short of another checkered flag in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race. Busch dominated the NSCS race at the California two-mile oval leading the field five times for a racehigh 151 laps (of 200). In the NNS race, Busch took the lead after a late race pit stop -- and he never relinquished his hold at the front of the field to earn a victory in the 150-lap event. It was Busch’s third victory of the 2011 season in the Nationwide Series, as well as his third straight series victory at Auto Club Speedway. In addition, it was his fifth NNS win at the track in his last six series starts at the Southern California oval.
DENNY TO DEFEND: Toyota driver Denny Hamlin has been victorious the last three times the Sprint Cup Series visited Martinsville Speedway -- in October 2009, and March and October of last year. The Chesterfield, Va.-native led a race-high 206 of 501 laps in 2009, and a race-high 172 of 508 laps in the spring race last year, as well as 40 laps in the fall race, to capture three checkered flags. Hamlin has a total of four NSCS wins at Martinsville. He scored his first win driving a Toyota Camry at the track in March 2008.
MARTINSVILLE MAGIC: Toyota has had a great deal of success at Martinsville Speedway in both the Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). In NSCS competition, Martinsville is tied with another Virginia track -- Richmond International Raceway (four wins) -- for the total number of NSCS wins by Camry drivers since 2007. All four of the Cup wins at Martinsville belong to Virginia-native Hamlin (March 2008, Oct. 2009, March 2010 and Oct. 2010), including the last three races at the half-mile oval. Tundra drivers have earned six wins at the track since Toyota entered the NCWTS in 2004, and rank second only to the nine victories Tundra drivers have earned at Texas Motor Speedway. Tundra drivers that have visited victory lane at Martinsville include David Starr (March 2006), Jack Sprague (Oct. 2006), Mike Skinner (March and Oct. 2007), Johnny Benson (Oct. 2008) and Timothy Peters (Oct. 2009).
TIM’S TURF: Tundra driver Peters scored his first career Truck Series victory in October 2009 at Martinsville Speedway. The Danville, Va.-resident led the final 84 laps en route to victory lane at his ‘home’ track. Peters, who joined Red Horse Racing midway through the 2009 season, previously ran his own NCWTS team out of his home 30 miles from Martinsville. Peters spent Tuesday visiting with his high school -- Bartlett Yancey High School -- near Danville, Va. BACK STORY: Follow Toyota Racing on Twitter (@toyotaracing) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/toyotaracing). Background and images about the Toyota NASCAR program are available at www.toyotamotorsportsmedia.com.
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for one victory, four top-five results, 12 top-10 finishes and have led 449 laps … After five races, two Toyota drivers are in the top-12 in the NSCS point standings -- Kyle Busch (fourth, -11 points) and Kasey Kahne (11th, -30) … Martin Truex Jr. (13th) and Bobby Labonte (18th) are also in the top-20 in the standings … During his career, Busch has led a total of 19,669 laps across all three of NASCAR’s national touring series, including 14,384 laps in a Toyota … At Martinsville this weekend, Toyota will make its 150th NSCS start since joining the series in 2007 … Camry drivers have earned 34 wins and 24 poles since their inaugural race in February 2007.
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Outdoors Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How do you feel about Martinsville? “We’ve had some really good cars there, we just haven’t been able to finish and close the deal. I feel like that track is coming around to us. Our guys are doing a better job -- they’re just giving us better race cars and doing a great job. That’s a race track that I don’t mind as much as I used to.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Why have you and Jimmie Johnson been so dominant at Martinsville? “I just think we have something figured out that really no one else has figured out at this point. That’s all you can really pinpoint it to, because the competition is so close. Each and every week -- even qualifying and racing -- everyone runs essentially the same speed once they kind of get it all ironed out. How can two guys seem to win? It’s no different than Kyle Busch at Bristol, to be honest with you. They can find ways to win when they don’t have the best car, because of their technique at that one given particular race track. So for me, obviously Richmond, Pocono and Martinsville -- those are three race tracks where I feel I can get the most out of what I don’t necessarily have sitting under me. I think it’s part of racing -- there are certain tracks where guys click. Every driver will tell you, he just has his favorite two or three race tracks where it seems that drivers can make up for what they don’t have.”
Can you make up some points in the championship standings at Martinsville? “We’re in no way, shape or form panicking or anything like that at this point. Essentially, I look back and I say, ‘Okay, we’re about 140 points back from the points lead right now in the old system.’ That’s how I kind of gauge where I need to be, what I need to do to perform to get myself in a Chase position. The good part about it and the reason I don’t panic is, I know I’ve got a really strong race team. Obviously, we’ve been contenders over these last five years for a reason -- that’s because of the core group of guys working on this team, and they continue to give me good race cars every weekend.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Do you enjoy racing at Martinsville? “I enjoy Martinsville. It’s been a tough track for me though. I’ve had some good qualifying runs there, but for the most part, the finishes have been pretty inconsistent. I like going there because it’s close to home and we get to stay home most of the weekend. For the most part, it hasn’t been a great track for me, so we’ve been working hard during the offseason on Martinsville and what it is going to take to go there and be competitive. Martinsville is a long race and a lot can go wrong. There’s a lot of traffic with a tight pit road. It’s one of those places where you need to be smart and have a good, clean race. Staying up front is a big help, so qualifying and all those things come into play.”
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS):
Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for three wins , four topfive results, 12 top-10 finishes and have led 637 laps … Kenny Wallace (eighth, -41 points) is the top Toyota driver in the NNS point standings after five races … Brian Scott (ninth), Steve Wallace (11th), Michael Annett (13th) and Ryan Truex (15th) are also in the top-15 in the standings … Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Camry team leads the NNS owner standings by 12 points ahead of another JGR entry, the No. 20 Camry … The NNS will enjoy a weekend off before returning to action April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Do you think about getting win number 50 in the Nationwide Series? “It’s not really something worth thinking about, to be honest with you. We just know that if we run well and if we do what we know how to do to be competitive and to reach our potential and do what we need to do on race day, then the wins will come. The only reason all the stats are what they are is not because I was out there to say, ‘I’m going to reach 10,000 laps led one day, watch this.’ It’s just about going out there and running as hard as you can and running every lap the best you can do. Of course, working with the crew chiefs and the engineers and all the guys that work on your team that pour a lot of good blood, sweat and tears into your cars and make them fast. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of fast race cars in the Nationwide Series and have been really good at bringing them to victory lane sometimes, too. That’s meant the most.”
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) … Kyle Busch will compete in both the NCWTS and NSCS races at Martinsville Speedway this weekend.
TODD BODINE, No. 30 Germain.com Toyota Tundra, Germain Racing
What makes Martinsville such a tough track? “Martinsville, you can overdrive it so easy. Going down the straightaway really hauling the mail at the end of the straightaway, and you think, ‘Well, I can drive it in here another five or 10 feet deep and get some more straightaway out of it.’ But, by the time you get to the center of the corner, the thing won’t turn and you’ve paid twice or three-fold. It’s really easy to overdrive it. Getting up off the corner and getting good forward bite without being loose, that’s critical, because that’s what gets you down the straightaways. With the gear rule the way it is with the trucks, the way we don’t have a lot of compression in the motors, we rely on the brakes to slow us down. The motors aren’t going to do it. So, you have to have brake management and understand halfway through the race, you still gotta have good brakes to have them at the end.”
TIMOTHY PETERS, No. 17 Nelson Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing
Is Martinsville a special race track for you? “Martinsville is always special to me. If they came out tomorrow and said that we were gonna run here 25 times, I don’t believe I’d complain one bit. Winning here was very special, but it was like, ‘Finally.’ I’ve been very fortunate to have a great career, highs and lows, and to finally break into that win column in front of family and friends, it was just very cool to do. I’ve always had a lot of success up here, not only in the stock car, but with the truck, so to finally mark that win column - - strike it one time -- it was very awesome. I just love this place. It’s what I grew up on and it’s just fun racing.”
-source: toyota motorsports