HISTORY HERE: This weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) marks the fourth time the Toyota Camry has competed at the one-mile New England oval. Two Camry drivers earned top-five finishes in ...
HISTORY HERE: This weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) marks the fourth time the Toyota Camry has competed at the one-mile New England oval. Two Camry drivers earned top-five finishes in the rain-shortened spring race -- Michael Waltrip (second) and J.J. Yeley (third). Other Camry drivers in the field included Denny Hamlin (eighth), Tony Stewart (13th), Brian Vickers (16th), David Reutimann (19th), Kyle Busch (25th), Dave Blaney (33rd), Michael McDowell (42nd) and AJ Allmendinger (43rd).
PLACES IN THE 'CHASE': Toyota will be represented in the 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' for the first time since entering the NSCS in 2007. Three Camry drivers -- Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates Busch, Hamlin and Stewart -- will start the 10-race 'Chase' at New Hampshire. With the points reset for the championship-contenders, Busch will be have a 30-point lead over second-place Carl Edwards. Hamlin and Stewart are sixth and eighth respectively in the championship points standings.
CONSISTENT 'CHASE' CONTENDER: "It's a lot better to be at the top than it is down at the bottom," said Busch, following Sunday's race at Richmond. "Just to go out there and run consistently in the final 10 races and race these other 42 guys at the track with us, and yet still try to out-race the other 11 that we're trying to beat out for the championship. We know it's going to be tough and it's not going to be easy, and we have the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the 99 (Carl Edwards) most to worry about and anybody else that could hit their stride. The 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) was really good at the beginning of the year and you never know what (Jeff) Gordon and (Matt) Kenseth will do -- all of these guys are capable of something."
RICHMOND REWIND: Two Camry drivers earned top-five finishes at Richmond -- Stewart (second) and Hamlin (third). Reutimann matched his career-best NSCS finish of ninth for the second consecutive weekend and led the most laps (104) in the 400-lap race. Other Camry drivers in the field included Busch (15th), McDowell (20th), Blaney (22nd), Ken Schrader (27th), Waltrip (28th), Vickers (36th) and Allmendinger (43rd).
DEBUT DELAY: Last weekend, tropical storm Hanna impacted not only the east coast of the United States, but also the NSCS debut of Joey Logano. When track activities were cancelled Friday night and Saturday at Richmond, including NSCS qualifying, it placed the 18-year-old on the outside of the 43-car starting field. The Middletown, Conn.-native is now scheduled to make his NSCS debut this weekend at New Hampshire driving the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 02 Home Depot Camry.
FAMILIAR TERRITORY: "I'm excited to get in the Cup car because we had a good car when we practiced at Richmond," said Logano. "I like the Cup cars more than the Nationwide cars. I think they fit my driving style a little better. I like that I get to run my first Cup race at New Hampshire. I've run two Camping World races there and won them both."
SPRING SUCCESS: "Our finish at New Hampshire was our best one of the year and it gave us a little bit of a boost at the time," says Steve Boyer, crew chief for Hall of Fame Racing and the No. 96 DLP HDTV Camry. "We had a pretty good car at Richmond and that track is very similar set-up wise. Some of the things we learned at New Hampshire helped us at Richmond and going back there we feel pretty confident about the set-up of our car to go back there and finish well."
TESTING FOR TOMMY: "We have tested exclusively looking towards New Hampshire for the past month-and-a-half and we feel like we'll be bringing back a better package," says Tommy Baldwin, crew chief for the Bill Davis Racing No. 22 Caterpillar Camry and a native of Bellport, N.Y. "We built a new car for the race and we're going to give it our best shot. We tested at Gateway International Raceway (St. Louis) for four days last month and have been working diligently on our test program. I really look forward to the race there for the lobsters and the Modifieds."
HISTORICAL HAPPENING: In last year's spring NSCS race at NHMS, Blaney earned the inaugural Cup pole position for Toyota since the manufacturer joined the series at the start of the 2007 season. The pole came in Toyota's 17th NSCS race and was the second of Blaney's career. Since that accomplishment, Camry drivers have earned five more NSCS poles including Waltrip at Talladega last October. This season, Busch has poles at Las Vegas and Charlotte, Hamlin started from the front of the field at Richmond in May and Brian Vickers earned the pole at Michigan.
SUCCESSFUL STRATEGY: "We just got a break there at the end with my pit strategy, getting enough gas to get us to the end and having a really strong car," said Waltrip, who finished second in the spring race at New Hampshire. "I passed a bunch of guys to get into position to get to race-winner Kurt (Busch) and race him. I really wished we could have gone back to green. To get a win for our team would have been very, very rewarding."
WALTRIP'S WAY: "I think it has to do with the progressive banking," says Waltrip, about racing at New Hampshire. "The track did something smart a few years ago. They flattened out the bottom of the track. That means if you want to pass someone, it's shorter on the bottom. However, you do not have the banking to lean on. I love that layout. It's fun and it's now tradition. The banking has created hard-nosed, flat-track racing. The easy way around is up top. The fastest way around is on the bottom, but you have to have your car handling better to work down there. It's a really cool scenario."
TONY'S TAKE ON TRACK: "It's a big motor deal," says Stewart, about racing at New Hampshire. "With the corners being so tight, you've got to put a lot of gear in the car to get it up off the corner. Forward bite is always an issue there, too -- trying to get the car to go forward. So, it's hard to get up off the corners. Then you've got long straight-aways where you can kind of relax a little bit. Coming into the corners, you use a lot of brake, and it's hard to not only get the car stopped, but to get it to turn. "
FLAT FACTS: "It seems like our FedEx team always excels on the shorter, flat track," says Hamlin. "A lot of it has to do with the package that we have and we feel like we're a little bit better right now on the shorter tracks. We don't have our big track stuff exactly figured out, but really we're just trying to take advantage of the strong points that we do have."
MESHING MIKE AND MICHAEL: "Probably the main thing that I've learned is that I just need to go off of my feel and not chase the lap time," said McDowell, about what he learned from Mike Skinner driving his NSCS car for three races. "Just chase what I need out of my race car to feel good about running a whole race. Mike (Skinner) verified that we needed to work on our race car and that my feedback was very similar to his. It gave me confidence that I can do the job that they need me to do. We just need to work on communication and getting all the other elements together to make sure that we can get this car back in the top-35."
NOW IN NEW ENGLAND AGAIN: Two crew members for the Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) No. 00 Toyota Camry will enjoy a homecoming at New Hampshire. Greg Osbourne, car chief and rear tire changer, is from Hampton Beach, N.H., and rear tire carrier Troy Prince is from York, Maine. Osbourne joined MWR when Waltrip established his team for the start of the 2007 campaign. Osbourne also worked with Waltrip on his NAPA team at Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI). Prince served as the rear tire carrier for Waltrip's DEI team in 2005 before making the move to MWR.
BIG GREEN GUY: Shaun Peet, jackman for the No. 83 Red Bull Camry, attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and played on the school's Division 1 ice hockey team for four seasons as a defenseman for the Big Green, from 1994 to 1998, participating in 76 games and scoring three goals. Following graduation, Peet went on to play professional minor- league hockey from 1998 through the 2005 season. 32-year-old Peet now serves as captain of the No. 83 pit crew that won the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge in Charlotte in May.
MORE HOMECOMINGS: Multiple crew members from the No. 20 Home Depot Camry are from the New England-area. Crew chief Greg Zipadelli is from Berlin, Conn.; Jason Lee, jackman for the No. 20 car, is from Willimontic, Conn.; car chief and brake specialist Jason Shapiro is from Essex, Conn.; and tire changer and mechanic Ira-Jo Hussey is from nearby Manchester, N.H.
DOUBLE DUTY: Two Toyota drivers will compete in both the NSCS and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) races at New Hampshire. Busch will compete in the familiar JGR No. 18 M&M's Camry and the Billy Ballew Motorsports No. 51 Miccosukee Tundra. Reutimann will be back behind the wheel of a Tundra for the first time in almost two years as he will drive the Germain Racing No. 9 Tundra, along with his No. 44 UPS Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing.
-credit: toyota motorsports