Toyota NSCS Martinsville post-qualifying notes and quotes

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Kyle Busch: “It feels good to put the M&M’s Camry on the pole here at Martinsville"

Polesitter Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Polesitter Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

1st, KYLE BUSCH
2nd, DENNY HAMLIN
6th, MATT KENSETH
12th, CLINT BOWYER
13th, BRIAN VICKERS
19th, ALEX BOWMAN
35th, COLE WHITT
38th, RYAN TRUEX
41st, PARKER KLIGERMAN
43rd, JOE NEMECHEK


KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (Starting Position: 1st)

What does it mean to earn your first NSCS pole at Martinsville? “It feels good to put the M&M’s Camry on the pole here at Martinsville is something that doesn’t happen very often -- at least with me behind the wheel. It certainly is a great day for us and the whole team -- Dave Rogers (crew chief) and everybody. They did a great job. We unloaded with a fast car and we tried to dial it in as best we could with race trim and then right there at the last second we did a qualifying run and that was about all we got. Guys did a good job there making some good changes to it for the qualifying session -- the first one -- and getting us a good lap there. I think we were third and then especially the changes that we made in between to continue to try to put down fast laps with the tires kind of diminishing there. We were able to do that. The second one we actually picked up a little bit of time so hooray for me and the team and we’re on the pole here so that’s good.”

What type of difference do you expect with the first pit box? “I think it’s a good difference. Obviously, just running the times that you get to run on pit road and everything that you seem to come around the corner and you’ll always dread that guys who’s in the first pit box beating you out. I think that’s a great thing for us. We get to pit there and of course drop the jack and just lunge across the line and be good. You need to still run up front all day. I think that it’s a great opportunity for us to pick up some spots say if we’re second, third, fourth, whatever, but you definitely always want to stay as close to the front as you can and try not to use that box as much as some guys have in the past. It’s going to be different because I’ve never done it before and hopefully I can find it.”

Are you hitting a stride this season? “I’ve been walking fine all year, but here the last couple weeks it seems like it’s a little easier anyways. It just seems to be working well right now, whatever is working. The guys on the whole JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) organization have worked real hard and have given us better cars. We’ve talked time and time again of what we’ve needed since the off season and with Denny (Hamlin) and Matt Kenseth and myself in the meetings and I feel like they’re getting closer and closer each and every week. Yeah, we won last week and if there was a race between the hare and the tortoise, we were the tortoise you know, but we were just able to prevail. We do need to be a little bit faster I feel like -- there is still some speed to be gained and some consistency throughout races as well as keeping speed throughout a run. Not being so fast and then falling off or being slow and then getting better. You want to be good all the time. There’s room for improvement still -- its early. It’s just week five, but excited to see the way things are going so far for all of us at JGR.”

Can you become the first repeat winner this season? “It would be nice definitely. I’d love to take home a grandfather clock -- I don’t have one of those yet. Denny’s (Hamlin) collected a couple of them for me on the Truck side, but there’s none at my house. It’s been a track that I’ve been really close at -- I think I’ve been second a few times, I’ve been third, I’ve been fourth and all that. To finally close out the deal you have to beat some good company -- there’s always going to be guys that are fast. It’s just a matter of maybe out-smarting them or being the best of them at that given time come lap 500.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (Starting Position: 2nd)

What did you battle in qualifying? “We really fought loose all during qualifying runs and just didn’t get it quite tight enough for that last one. Tire wear is going to be big on Sunday and it’s something that we’re going to work on tomorrow during practice and focus on. We got quite a bit of race run in today just in case it does rain. We feel pretty confident in what we have for Sunday.”

How was the qualifying effort? “It was a solid qualifying effort for us. I kind of knew while I was running the lap that it wasn’t a pole-type lap. Surprisingly, it ended up as close as we did. Just fought loose most of the time. I think the track is pretty free right now in general. It’s tough. These cars are putting down more horsepower than they ever have so it’s harder and harder to get your car to come off the corner and that was what we fought through the two sessions. It got progressively worse from the second session from the first. Obviously, just came up a bit short. Like I talked about earlier, there’s two or three really good pit stalls that we have to choose from now.”

Does it hurt you to start on the outside for this race? “A little bit yeah -- on restarts that can really hurt you for sure. The one good thing you can have is teammates up front that cut you breaks here and there and that’s what we’ve done a lot with the 18 (Kyle Busch) and the 20 (Matt Kenseth) over the last couple years is cutting each other breaks, giving that position back after you get going green because once you do get hung up on the high side you definitely are at a huge disadvantage over the bottom lane. I would much rather be fifth on the bottom than second on the outside pole any day. There’s a lot of time to make it up. It’s just those last crucial restarts where you definitely want to put yourself on the bottom.”

Is your focus different this weekend with your confidence to win? “Not really. The focus is the same. I don’t do anything differently. You just have to perform. I knew, even going into this weekend I knew we were going to be really good contenders and be in the mix anyway. I feel like after running a couple laps of practice I felt like this was a car that was capable of winning. I think really this year with tire management being more of a factor than it’s ever been, it kind of lends itself to my driving style even more. For that reason I think we’ll be tough on Sunday.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (Starting Position: 6th)

What does it say that people are picking you to watch at Martinsville to win? “They used to always pick me to watch too because they figured I would be the wreck or the action. It was good -- our teammates are on the front row, which is great and we were just a little off of them. That is probably just me. We were on both sides of it a little bit there -- the last three weeks have been really good qualifying starting off this year really bad, but the last three weeks have been good. I think this is our worst start, which sixth is really good. Overall I was happy with it.”

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (Starting Position: 12th)

How was the qualifying lap? “Well that wasn’t what I wanted. I think I had the fastest first lap there in that final session. I should have just gone for it on that first lap, but heck we have been doing a good job in qualifying. We’ve been making it to the final round and I’m proud of this 5-hour ENERGY team for all their hard work.”

BRIAN VICKERS, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (Starting Position: 13th)

What kept you from the top-12 in qualifying? “One thousandth of a second is what hindered me. I’m just really proud of everybody on this Aaron’s team -- they did a great job. It’s frustrating -- we’re so close. I think we’ve got a really good race car. I think what was working for us in race trim was hurting us in qualifying trim. We didn’t compensate enough, but we learned from it and we’ll move on. Still always want to be shooting for the pole.”

ALEX BOWMAN, No. 23 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing (Starting Position: 19th)

COLE WHITT, No. 26 Swan Energy Toyota Camry, Swan Racing (Starting Position: 35th)

RYAN TRUEX, No. 83 Borla Exhaust Toyota Camry, BK Racing (Starting Position: 38th)

PARKER KLIGERMAN, No. 30 Swan Energy Toyota Camry, Swan Racing (Starting Position: 41st)

JOE NEMECHEK, No. 66 Land Castle Title Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports (Starting Position: 43rd)

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Interview
Tags alex bowman, brian vickers, clint bowyer, cole whitt, denny hamlin, joe nemechek, kyle busch, martinsville, matt kenseth, nascar-cup, parker kligerman, ryan truex