POCONO PLAYBACK: Kyle Busch was the highest finishing Camry driver in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Pocono Raceway with a third-place result. Busch started 34th, led the field once for two laps in the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 M&M’s Camry and earned his seventh top-five result this season. Camry driver Denny Hamlin led a race-high 76 laps (of 200) in the 500-mile event, however his JGR No. 11 FedEx Ground Camry experienced a flat left-rear tire on lap 158 and Hamlin finished 19th. It marked only the third time in 11 starts that Hamlin has finished outside the topsix at the Pennsylvania track. Martin Truex Jr. (10th), Joey Logano (11th), Kasey Kahne (12th) and David Reutimann (13th) also finished among the top-15 for Toyota.
MICHIGAN MOMENTS: The NSCS and NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) travel to Michigan International Speedway this weekend, a track which holds special memories for Toyota. Travis Kvapil earned the first-ever NASCAR win for Toyota in 2004, taking the NCWTS checkered flag in just the 13th race that first season. Brian Vickers notched a special win for Toyota at Michigan in Aug. 2009 when he earned the second victory for a TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development)-built engine and the first victory for the Red Bull Racing Team since entering the series as a Toyota team in 2007. Last June, Hamlin led 123 laps (of 200) to record his first series win at the two- mile track.
100 CARS FOR GOOD: Toyota recently announced the first 25 winners of the ‘Toyota 100 Cars for Good’ program, which awards 100 vehicles over the course of 100 days to 100 deserving non-profits. The first 25 winners spanned across several categories including animal welfare and wildlife, arts and culture, education, health and safety, and human services. Each day, five organizations are featured on Toyota’s Facebook page where the public is invited to show their support by voting to determine the winning non-profit organization. The daily winner will be awarded a new Toyota vehicle to help the organizations continue to do ‘good’ in their local communities. The remaining finalists each receive a $1,000 grant from Toyota. The winning organization can choose to receive one of the following vehicles: Toyota Prius, Tacoma, Tundra, Highlander Hybrid, Sienna or Sienna Mobility. With each vehicle, Toyota Financial Services provides a six-year, 100,000- mile Toyota Vehicle Service Agreement to help provide extended protection beyond the vehicle warranty.
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for two victories, 14 top-five results, 30 top-10 finishes and have led 1,460 laps … After 14 races, Kyle Busch is fifth in the NSCS point standings and Denny Hamlin ranks 12th … Brian Vickers has earned the pole position in his last three starts at Michigan (Aug. 2008, June 2009 and Aug. 2009) … Vickers has seven consecutive top-10 results at Michigan, including a win in Aug. 2009 … Jake Brzozowski, rear tire carrier for the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 56 team, is from Sterling, Mich. … Dave Elenz, an engineer for the No. 83 Red Bull Camry, hails from Gaylord, Mich. … Joe Gibbs Racing mechanic Bill Byrne currently resides in Marne, Mich. … Ann Arbor, Mich., is home to the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) … TTC is the driving force behind Toyota’s North American Engineering and Research and Development activities, overseeing the design and development of vehicles.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What do you like about racing at Michigan? “Michigan is a fun track. It’s just a track where you can move around, change your car, and you can get out of line of the guy in front of you. It’s not an aero-sensitive track like a lot of them. It definitely is a benefit, as far as that’s concerned. I like a track where the driver can make somewhat of a difference. When his car’s not handling well, he’s got multiple grooves to change the way his balance is on his race car and Michigan is one of those race tracks. Your car’s not always going to be perfect, but you can almost make it that way by the way you drive there. We see guys from the top to the bottom and it’s a drafting race track. On the restarts, we see guys three and four-wide simply because the draft is such a big deal at that track. It’s exciting from my standpoint.”
Then it quits working and you can’t go back to the bottom.
Do you enjoy racing at Michigan? “It’s just a fun place to race. Its wide-open racing and you can run from top to bottom. The biggest thing is just trying to get grip there. Some guys are able to get it, other guys can’t. You can get it for maybe five laps and then you’re just out to lunch. The biggest thing is just trying to make your car comfortable and make it last throughout a whole tire run and, of course, make it fast, too. And the wide race track is good -- that’s what makes Michigan so exciting and so fun.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Why is it difficult to determine which changes to make at a track like Michigan with so many lanes? “Because the car is different depending on where you run on the race track and you really have to go into practice thinking about the past races at Michigan and what worked for you and what didn’t. The top lane is really, really good in practice and as practice goes on it kind of goes away and as the race goes -- it seems like 100 miles into the race really the top isn’t good anymore. It’s really easy to fool yourself into making your car work good up top in the high groove and then when you get in the race you get stuck up there. Then it quits working and you can’t go back to the bottom.”
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team
Do you look forward to returning to Michigan? “I’m excited to get back to Michigan. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the circuit -- I think it makes for great racing. Last time I raced in Michigan we sat on the pole and won the race, and hopefully we can go back there and win it again. It was a special day for myself and everyone at Red Bull. Since I missed both races last season, we are definitely all excited to get back there and show everyone what we can do.”
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): Since the start of the 2011 season, Toyota drivers have combined for six wins, 17 topfive results, 36 top-10 finishes and have led 1,120 laps … Kenny Wallace (seventh) is the top Toyota driver in the NNS point standings …Steve Wallace (eighth), Brian Scott (ninth), Michael Annett (10th) and Joe Nemechek (12th) are also in the top-15 in the standings… Toyota NNS drivers have won races at 19 of 25 facilities on the circuit, however Michigan is one of only five tracks where a Camry has not crossed the finish line first … K. Wallace has earned three top-10 finishes in his last four starts … David Reutimann will make his third start in the Rusty Wallace Racing No. 64 Camry this weekend … Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 crew chief Adam Stevens is from Portsmouth, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University in 2002 with a mechanical engineering degree.
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What is the No. 20 team’s philosophy for the remainder of the 2011 season? “I like the new philosophy that our team is going to go after in Michigan. We just want to win races. We’ve always been in it to win races, but I think there were times that maybe we would have made a conservative call to not fall way back in the field, which is what we needed to do to stay in the owner’s championship standings. Now that we are in it to win it, we can go after it for all that it’s worth. Michigan is normally a fuel mileage race and that philosophy could come down to it this weekend. It should be a lot of fun.”
-source: toyota motorsports