Kyle Busch (third) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Martinsville Speedway.
• Camry drivers Busch (151 laps) , Denny Hamlin (89) and Kasey Kahne (one) led laps in today’s 500-lap race at the half-mile Virginia race track.
• Hamlin (12th), Joey Logano (13th), David Reutimann (15th) and Brian Vickers (17th) also earned top-20 finishes.
• Other Camry drivers in the field included Bobby Labonte (27th), Michael McDowell (32nd), Casey Mears (36th), Kahne (39th), Martin Truex Jr. (40th), Mike Skinner (42nd) and Joe Nemechek (43rd).
• Busch gained three positions to the take the lead in the unofficial NSCS point standings with his third-place finish -- his career-best result at Martinsville Speedway.
• Other Toyota drivers in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS point standings after six of 36 races include Kahne (15th), Truex (17th) and Hamlin (19th).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 3rd
How did your car handle today? “We just didn’t have a short run car today. Unfortunate because we had a great Camry -- it was awesome. Really, really good on the long runs. Just wasn’t a long run race there at the end.”
Did you think you had a chance to pass Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the final laps? “They (Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) were getting after it and I gained on them and got there. Just not enough time. We had made the car better, just not better enough.”
How was your race today? “It was really good. We had one of the best runs here we’ve ever had. Probably had the best car here today and unfortunately just didn’t win with it. Came down to the last run of the race there and it was kind of a short run. We just didn’t have the car to do it on a short run. Every time we had the lead off pit road we lost it. It took about 28 laps to get going again. I think the last run was about 28 laps and that’s when I started catching those guys a little bit. They were racing, they were battling, but we did get back up to them. Probably would have had something to beat them with, just can’t find speed here at Martinsville when it matters most.”
Was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s pass fair at the end? “Yeah, I was holding him up. I sucked so it was good for him. He took the lead and no harm, no foul.”
Probably had the best car here today and unfortunately just didn’t win with it.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 12th
What do you need to do moving forward? “There’s a lot of things. I would agree with Mike (Ford, crew chief) -- our fuel mileage was like our pit stops. Everybody knows how those were. It was a tough day in that sense. We had a good car. We didn’t have a great car. It seems like when the track did collect a little bit of rubber there, our car fell off just a little bit. It was all about track position today. Those guys who came out of the pits in the front had a big advantage.”
Do you need to make changes in your pit crew? “We need to work on who we’re going to have change tires for us I guess, I don’t know. Things like that, it’s pretty tough. Especially mid-season. You’ve got chemistry and stuff that you’ve got to deal with, but at this point you either work with what you’ve got or try to find someone that maybe can do a better job. You just don’t know right now and we don’t know what to do. As far as fuel mileage and that results and is the key to our bad finish so again, just go to TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and figure out why we’re getting such bad mileage. We had to stop a little bit before those guys and ultimately put us in a bad spot when the caution came out.”
Were you surprised that Kevin Harvick won the race? “I think the track went through a transition. Eventually the tires did put some rubber down on the track and that’s where you saw the transition of guys that were probably good at the beginning weren’t as good at the end. That’s why you saw the shift of cars towards the front I think.”
How disappointed are you with this finish? “It’s disappointing for sure. We’re going to another good track next week for us. We have to get rolling. We have to get some good, solid finishes. At this point, I’m just happy we finished the race being everything that’s going on. We’re making slow and steady progress I guess.”
Is the fuel mileage connected to your other engine issues? “No, our mileage just sucks real bad. It sucked at Phoenix and it sucks here. We just have to figure it out. All of the things we need to do to be a championship team -- we don’t have all those parts together right now.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 13th
How was your race car today? “We ran top-15 all day and we got into the top-10. We were pretty fast there actually -- probably top-six, seven, eight car. We got screwed again by a caution coming out there at the wrong time after we did our pit stop. We went down two laps - - got a wave around and got to the lucky dog spot and of course we couldn’t get a caution because that’s just the way it’s gone this year. We finished 13th and it could have been worse -- it was worse there for a while after spinning out.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Outdoors Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 15th
How was your race car today? “We had a great Aaron’s Outdoors Toyota and great pit stops all day. We just had a long green flag run at the end where the car got away from us and it hurt us pretty bad. We just couldn’t turn the center like we needed. We got a top-15 and we’ll take that for now. I’m looking forward to Texas and getting back on a mile-and-a-half track next week.”
How was your race? “That was a bad weekend for us -- our worst this season. We all made mistakes. But we will recover from it. If our worst day is a 17th place finish, then we will take it.”
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Lance Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 27th
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP Racing LLC Toyota Camry, PRISM Motorsports Finishing Position: 32nd
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 36th
Are you okay after the accident? “I’m fine. Our biggest problem is we got behind at the start. The tire started laying rubber and then we were fighting the car and got too far back. Once I got hit -- usually you get hit here and spin out and somebody’s mad, but in that case I knew that the throttle had stuck or something on Martin’s (Truex Jr.) car. He drilled me through the wall and then he follows with his. Pretty good wreck. Just a bad day. I thought we were at least going to have a solid run.”
Thanks to NASCAR and everybody that builds the SAFER barriers and these race cars and everything -- they’re unbelievable.
How hard of a hit was that for you? “From my hit, it was actually a lot harder than I thought it could hit at Martinsville so Martin’s (Truex) was probably even harder than that. I think you can hit pretty hard anywhere in a race car, it just depends on how it happens and what the circumstances are. Hung throttles are the worst. That’s where you usually hit about the hardest. Mine didn’t hang, but the other guys did.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Finishing Position: 40th
Are you okay after the accident? “I’m fine. Just unfortunate. We had a throttle stuck wide open -- not sure why. There’s a lot of big chunks of rubber flying around out there. I don’t know if one of those got up in the carburetor linkage or what, but just never had any warning. Went to let off to go into three and it was stuck to the floor. Not much you can do at that point here.”
How do you feel about the safety measures in place in NASCAR? “Thanks to NASCAR and everybody that builds the SAFER barriers and these race cars and everything -- they’re unbelievable. 10 years ago I wouldn’t be standing here. Thankful for that and thankful for everybody working on my NAPA Toyota. It’s a rough day right there. We started off pretty bad and we were working on it and getting better. We were just trying to survive. We sure didn’t need that, but it is what it is. We’ll go into next week and fight hard.”
Was there anything you could do when the throttle hung open? “No, unfortunately there’s not. You lock the brakes up, but there’s nothing you can do. As unfortunate as it was that Kasey (Kahne) was involved, he really helped slow my car down when I hit him. It was probably a blessing. Hate that we took him out.”
Did you have any indication that was coming? “No, no indication at all. Everything was fine and I went to let off to go into three and it stuck to the floor and at that point there’s nothing you can do. It happens so fast, there’s no way you can hit the kill switch or shut the thing off. Just lock up the brakes and you are just a passenger at that point.”
MIKE SKINNER, No. 60 Big Red Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 42nd
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 43rd
-source: toyota motorsports