• Kyle Busch (third) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Auto Club Speedway.
• Busch started eighth and led 151 (of 200) laps at the two- mile race track in southern California.
• Camry drivers Brian Vickers (eighth) and Kasey Kahne (10th) also earned top-10 finishes.
• Other Camry drivers in the field included David Reutimann (19th), Martin Truex Jr. (21st), Joey Logano (25th), Casey Mears (29th), Bobby Labonte (38th), Denny Hamlin (39th), Todd Bodine (40th), Joe Nemechek (42nd) and Michael McDowell (43rd).
• Toyota drivers in the top-20 in the NSCS point standings after five of 36 races include Busch (fourth), Kahne (11th), Truex (13th) and Labonte (18th).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 3rd
What happened at the end of the race? “It’s just we give it up, you know. We gave the race away today, unfortunately. We seem to be losing the handle a little bit two runs from the end and especially that last set of tires. We just didn’t quite have what it took in order to keep the front end under the car and then the back end under the car on the exits of the corner. I just couldn’t get the right speed that I needed. The guys did a great job this weekend. The Interstate Batteries Camry was good from when we unloaded the second one Friday. I can’t say enough about the guys on pit road and the guys back at the shop. They did a great job for us and got us in position and just unfortunately I couldn’t get the job done today. I didn’t have what it took there at the end.”
What happened during the final few laps of the race? “Today was a really, really good race for us anyways. We had a really good race car. Can’t thank the guys enough -- everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing, chassis shop, bodies -- it was a whole effort this weekend. Especially the team guys this weekend, being able to prepare the backup car and get it out on the race track in time to get some qualifying laps and in enough time to have a good race car yesterday in practice and then again today. Just real, real unfortunate and frustrating and disappointing all in one that we weren't able to seal the deal today. Just come down to the last few laps there with Jimmie (Johnson) first and then Kevin (Harvick) got into it, too, with us. You ask a little bit more from your race car at the last moments, it doesn't have anything left to give. You're essentially a sitting duck waiting for those guys to drive by you. Couldn't get any more out of the car. That was it. It would push, get loose, that was all we had.”
Do you feel the last caution hurt you? “Certainly, certainly. Certainly the last two did, definitely. Just bunching the field back up, getting everybody closer to us. We got some adjustments on that one pit stop. Kind of helped our car. That last one really hurt, getting everybody back to us, especially those guys that pitted that got two tires and came through. I don't know if (Kevin) Harvick did or not. We're still debating on that. You were kind of a sitting duck. It was just a matter of time before they got there. You were hoping you could hold them off at least eight laps, nine laps, however many we had left green.”
Did your win yesterday factor into everybody staying out on the track that last caution? “I think today, Tony (Stewart) earlier in the race actually dictated more than what yesterday had. Tony stayed out there. I think they made a mistake, had a miscue on the radio. He stayed out with eight laps on his tires earlier in the race. We all pitted. He hung right with me that run. That whole run he was on my rear bumper like six car lengths away. I think that dictated a lot of it. We only had nine laps to go. All you had to do was try to fight off the guys behind you for nine laps. It seems that whenever we get in that position, it hurts us a little bit. We'd rather be the ones chasing rather than being the chased.”
What are your thoughts about what happened to Denny Hamlin in the race? “When Denny (Hamlin) had his problems, I wasn't sure what it was. I never really got a full communication of what happened. I wasn't too worried. If something happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. You kind of play it like that. Really that's all there is to it. It's unfortunate obviously. It's a big blow I'm sure to the organization, what we're doing with the engine shop and everything. It's not that you'll find something and maybe get it fixed in a week. But, we certainly wish we would have been able to get it done by now. I know Mark (Cronquist, JGR engine builder) is doing the best he can. The Toyota guys at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) -- trying to figure out what's going on. Mine made it fine today. Joey's (Logano) made it fine I think today, as far as I know. They changed engine, but they made it all day today. You can start in the back and make your way through sometimes. We'll work on it. That's all I can say. I really don't know what happened.”
Will your team look at your engine to make sure there aren’t any problems? “Our engines always go back to the shop, get torn down and looked at. Mine will too. We'll see how mine looked after today's race. I never had any issues. I imagine everything on mine will look okay. I never heard a pitch change or heard anything different than crisp all day. I don't imagine anything's wrong with mine.”
What are your thoughts on the race length? “I wish it was a 300-mile race, to be honest. I didn't notice any difference, to be honest with you. I felt like an extra 50 laps wouldn't have changed a whole lot. It would have definitely changed the pit strategy at the end. We would have came down and got tires instead of staying out because there were only a few laps to go. There would have been about 40 to go. We all would have been short on gas anyway. There would have been another pit stop after that pit stop. I think the length was fine.”
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 8th
How do you feel about an eighth-place finish at California? “We wanted to win, but I think everyone is pretty happy. The way our luck has been, to be honest with you, we had a good car all day, we were competitive all day, we just couldn’t quite get that last little tight out. There at the end on the restart, that 09 (Landon Cassill) hurt us a lot when he spun his tires. The guys did a great job, this is just what the Red Bull pit crew needed -- a good solid day.”
How was your race? “We ran good all day. We were top-five, top-three all day. We were just missing just a little bit to really compete for the win. We just couldn’t quite get it out of the car. We kept throwing stuff at it every stop, we were just a little too tight. Either way, it was still a really good day for the Red Bull team. The guys did a great job on pit stops all day. We had a competitive car. The way our luck has been lately, I think a top-eight -- we’ll take it.”
How important is it that you get a top-eight finish after five races this season? “The luck we’ve had so far, we didn’t know what to expect no matter how good our car was. We had a great car last week at Bristol and that jam up on the front stretch right there at the beginning of the race got our radiator. After these five races, we weren’t out of the top-35, but we were close, we were like 20-something in the high twenties. So, to move up a little bit it definitely gives us a little more comfort going into Martinsville.”
Are you glad to see both Red Bull cars in the top-10? “It’s great. Kasey (Kahne) and I have been working great together, the teams have been working well together. We’ve had two good cars week in and week out. We just haven’t had the luck to go with it. We had a good run and he’s had a problem or vice-a-versa. It’s good for both of us be up front racing competitively.”
KASEY KAHNE, No. 4 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 10th
How does it feel to get a top-10 at California? “We were really bad and kept working on it. The team did a good job with pit stops. We came back to right there, to a top- 10, but it was a tough race. The car wouldn’t turn, we were really loose, but it wouldn’t turn for the first 150 laps and then we made some air pressure adjustments that our teammate, the 83 (Brian Vickers) worked pretty good with that. We kind of followed them and had good pit stops. We had good pit calls, made the car a lot better, but it was way off, we weren’t close when it started.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 19th
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Finishing Position: 21st
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 25th
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 29th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 38th
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 39th
What was the issue on your car to take you out of the race? “It looked like something in the valve train. Obviously, we’ve got pistons beat up pretty good. It’s tough to say what exactly came first, what problem came first but it’s definitely internal where it ended our day.” Does this issue resemble anything that you’ve seen with other Joe Gibbs Racing problems this year? “It’s tough to say. Each one seems to be isolated and different. I can’t really pin point whether it’s one problem. If we knew exactly what it was, hopefully we’d get it fixed. Right now, we’ve got to go to work and do some inspecting on this thing and see what we can do to finally finish a race.” Are you disappointed being out of the race? “It’s disappointing for sure. We had a good car and I was just kind of playing with my teammate there early. We lost some power early on in the day when we started dropping positions. We didn’t know exactly what it was. Obviously, it was another engine failure and what not. It’s frustrating from my stand point. We got some really good tracks coming up for us.”
Are you concerned about engine problems? “At this point, yeah, now it’s starting to affect me. I’m worried a little bit more. It’s frustrating because you want to do the best you can each week and Mike (Ford, crew chief) and the team did a great job setting up the car and we had a fast car. It doesn’t matter in the end if you can’t finish the way you’re supposed to.”
Do you feel a win at Martinsville is necessary for you next week? “It’s too early for that. We have to do everything we can at this point to get solid runs. Probably when I leave here I’ll be 20-something in the points and I’ve been there after five races or so. You still, it’s top-10 now, not top-12. We definitely need to get some solid finishes. We need to prove at this point we can finish a race.”
TODD BODINE, No. 60 Big Red Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 40th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 42nd
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP Racing LLC Toyota Camry, PRISM Motorsports Finishing Position: 43rd
-source: toyota motorsports