Camry driver Kyle Busch won his second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at California’s Auto Club Speedway -- located in Toyota’s backyard. Busch also won the 2013 race.
The win could solidify Busch a spot in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. The Las Vegas-native led five laps (of 206).
Brian Vickers (seventh) also recorded top-10 finishes for Toyota in California while his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Clint Bowyer (16th) earned a top-20.
Sam Hornish Jr. (17th) drove the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 11 Camry in Sunday’s race when Denny Hamlin was unable to participate due to a sinus infection.
Three Camry drivers are currently in the top-12 in the unofficial NSCS point standings -- Kenseth (fifth), Busch (seventh) and Hamlin (11th).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (Finishing Position: 1st)
How amazing was this race finish? “I think the fans won today, too. Holy cow, what do you expect when you get a green-white-checkered finish and everybody has to come down pit road for tires. That right there is a ‘Days of Thunder’ thing right there. There was two laps to go and everybody is going to pit. Unbelievable day. I can’t say enough about Interstate Batteries, M&M’s and Toyota of course -- awesome today to be here again in their home town. And of course Sprint, appreciate them helping us with this sport. Monster Energy Drink -- nothing greater than this to keep the party going all night long and of course the fans. Hopefully they’re celebrating with us.”
What were the final laps like for you with the green-white-checkered finish? “Man oh man. The first thing that comes to mind when the caution came out with just a few laps to go -- that was total Rowdy Burns ‘Days of Thunder’ right there. There’s a couple laps to go -- I'm not pitting. Everybody has to pit, Cole (Trickle), we’re coming down for four tires because there’s a green-white-checkered coming.
I knew four tires was going to win the race, so I’m glad Dave (Rogers, crew chief) called that. There was some great racing up front between Tony (Stewart) and Kurt (Busch) there -- it was really interesting to watch that. I went into turn one thinking I’m going to run the middle and then Tony started sliding off the bottom and I’m like, ‘Nope, not having it.’
I had to get some brake and cut my car to the left and drove underneath him and got him cleared off turn two and I was able to keep Kyle Larson behind me. Man, what a shoe that boy is. If he would have gotten alongside of me it would have been a whale of a race. I drove off into turn three, but I heard car inside on my left. If he drove it in further than I did, Jesus must have told him to stop. I just can’t say enough about all these guys on this Interstate Batteries Toyota team. What an awesome race this track produced. I just can’t believe it. I thank the Lord for putting ourselves here and getting us locked in the Chase.”
Did you have any close calls with tires during the race? “No, I never felt anything wrong with ours. I know Dave (Rogers, crew chief) said that something was wrong with our left rear at one time, but I never felt anything and it made it the run we needed it to be while a couple other guys had problems. All in all we had a good safe day for our team -- no issues and then we came home with a win.”
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Why did you decide to make a pit stop during the final caution? “It was really the only decision. You knew a lot of people were going to take tires. You knew there would be a couple that would try two or try none, but early in the race the 2 (Brad Keselowski) car stayed out and in a lap he was back in 20th. You knew how it was going to play out. The pit crew just did a phenomenal job, every stop the pit crew was on it so we had a lot of confidence coming down pit road knowing that we could take four and give Kyle (Busch) good track position and we knew if Kyle had good track position, he could handle the rest, so it worked out great.
JOE GIBBS, owner, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does it mean for your race team to get their first victory of the season? “Well, we are thrilled. Kyle (Busch), obviously we got the perfect person driving the car. I’m going up and down pit road, and what I would say there is our pit crew and the whole team. Dave (Rogers, crew chief), you guys just fought their heart out all day long.
We bounced back and forth between second, third, fourth, sixth, somewhere in there, and for that last pit stop I was concerned for the 18 because we were pitting in the middle of pit road and so many things can happen there. Matt (Kenseth), I felt like he did a good job, he was down there in (turn) 1, but it was just a great day for all of us, and I would say it was really a total team effort, and then you’ve got the perfect person driving the car.
It’s hard to beat Kyle with something like that. We were thrilled. Interstate Batteries, what can you say for Norm (Miller) and Kyle’s two wins here last year and this year were thrilling. Toyota, it’s a big week for us, we’re out here with them and it's a home base for TRD (Toyota Racing Development). We love our partnership with them, we get to spend a couple days out here and tear up some turf on the golf course and everything else. We’re thrilled. We had a great time. By the way, I want to say the crowd, awesome. The crowd packed the place. It was hard to get in here this morning and we appreciate everybody in Southern California coming out.”
Do you have an update on Denny Hamlin? “Yeah, right now Denny (Hamlin) left immediately, right as the race started, went to the hospital, and I think they’re still running tests. So I think it’ll probably be later on before we get any results.”
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (Finishing Position: 4th)
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 55 TreatMyClot.com Aaron’s Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (Finishing Position: 7th)
How was your race? “Just so proud of the effort by this whole TreatMyClot.com Aaron’s Toyota team. They did a great job. I want to take a moment to thank Aaron’s for helping us spread the word on a great cause with clot awareness this month. It was gracious and incredible of them to come off the hood and give us some space for a good cause. I’m really proud of the guys. We had a good car all day.
The guys did an awesome job in the pits always except for once and I think we need to acknowledge they were laying down some incredible stops. Unfortunately we had a big mistake that cost us like 20 spots on one of the stops and we battled back from that all day and then fought traffic and finally got to the front and then a bunch of guys stayed out on old tires on the green-white-checkered which kind of caught us off-guard. We just ran out of time.
The 40 (Landon Cassill) stayed out on old tires and we had nowhere to go. All the guys dropped down to the inside and went four wide and we were just kind of stuck. I tried to make a move and just couldn’t make anything out of it. If it stayed green, I don’t know if we would have won but probably could have been better than we were.”
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 PEAK Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (Finishing Position: 16th)
How was your race? “We can’t seem to catch a break. We lead for a while, we came back after confusion with the lights on pit road and were in contention to win at the end. However, we started feeling a vibration with about four to go and it just didn’t make it. It just stinks for this team. We had an awesome PEAK Toyota and we had shot to win today.”
SAM HORNISH JR., No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (Finishing Position: 17th)
COLE WHITT, No. 26 Speed Stick Gear Toyota Camry, Swan Racing (Finishing Position: 18th)
ALEX BOWMAN, No. 23 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing (Finishing Position: 22nd)
RYAN TRUEX, No. 83 Borla Exhaust Toyota Camry, BK Racing (Finishing Position: 31st)
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 66 Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports (Finishing Position: 32nd)
PARKER KLIGERMAN, No. 30 Swan Energy Toyota Camry, Swan Racing (Finishing Position: 42nd)