Camry driver Kyle Busch (fourth) was the first Toyota driver to the finish line in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Toyota Chase drivers Martin Truex Jr. (ninth), Clint Bowyer (10th) and Denny Hamlin (16th) competed in the first of 10 races in the championship playoff. Joey Logano (seventh) also earned a top-10 result in a Camry at the mile-and-a-half track.
Other Camry drivers in the field included Mark Martin (14th), Denny Hamlin (16th), Bobby Labonte (26th), Landon Cassill (29th), Travis Kvapil (31st), David Stremme (39th), Joe Nemechek (40th) and Mike Bliss (42nd). Following the first of 10 races in the 'Chase for the Sprint Cup,' Camry drivers Hamlin (fourth), Bowyer (sixth) and Truex (ninth) are among the 12 drivers competing for the title.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing - Finishing Position: 4th
How was today's race? "The day started off really good. We were following the 24 (Jeff Gordon) up to the front. We had a strong Doublemint Camry. We didn't want to make any changes to it early just to see where the track was going to go and then we started working on it -- just getting a little more grip and more side bite.
Everything we did kind of helped -- there was one time that it didn't help, but every other time it helped. Just didn't quite have enough for the top-three today, but we had a fourth-place car and we got a fourth-place effort out of it."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 9th
How was your car's handling during the race? "We were horrible at the start -- just straight to the rear. We were just so -- so tight all day long. I don't know what happened -- I can't believe we missed it that bad. Good job by all the guys on this NAPA Toyota.
We just had to stick with it, keep pushing and keep pounding on it. We made lots and lots and lots and lots of changes -- big changes and it just worked at the end. We just kept getting them one at a time."
How does this impact your start to the Chase? "It wasn't the way we wanted to start the Chase. We had high hopes coming in here and we really had a pretty good weekend. At the start of the race the car was just really tight -- just plowing. I was pretty worried. We worked really hard for that top-10. At the beginning if you would have told me we were going to get a top-10, I would have told you that you were crazy.
All in all a good day. If that was one of our bad days, we'll take it. The guys did good -- we just had to battle and stay after it all day long. Lots and lots of big adjustments and we were able to pull out a top-10 at the end. Not a bad day and we'll go on to New Hampshire."
What do you think of managing to earn a top-10 finish with so much early adversity in the race? "Top-10 is good. We were pretty bad today. I'm just proud of Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and all the guys for the hard work and the good adjustments. We were just so tight at the beginning. I started 18th, which wasn't that great and we went backwards pretty fast.
It wasn't looking pretty there for awhile, but just fought hard. Had good restarts all day -- had a good motor and good adjustments. Just picked them off one at a time -- it wasn't easy, but we got it done. I really felt that we were going to be good today. Not sure what happened, but we'll go back and look at it and hopefully figure something out."
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 10th
How was today's race? "It just wasn't a good day. I don't know whether it was strategy or pit stops or what, but it seemed like we lost spots on pit road all day and it just cost us. You ain't going to win a championship with decent days -- you have to have good days."
What happened at the end of the race? "We ran out of fuel. We didn't get it all the way full on the last stop. Darian (Grubb, crew chief) said we made an adjustment instead of putting fuel in the car and you have to have fuel to finish."
Does this hurt the team's momentum at the start of the Chase? "We're only 15 (points) back or something like that -- we can make that up easily. We're fast enough to do that. Bad thing is that I felt like we could have run to third right there -- just was having to run so slow to keep from running out of fuel and we still ran out."
How will this set back impact you moving into next week? "We're optimistic about next week -- about trying to get a win. For this tough ending, we're going to need to perform well. It's just getting past these first three and trying to still be in contention is key.
You can't have self-induced problems and this isn't luck or anything like that. This was just us making a big mistake with our fuel again. It's tough, but we're strong enough and fast enough this Chase that we can make up 15 points easily."
Source: Toyota Motorsport