Truex Jr. paces the Toyota contingent at Pocono, finishes third

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Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. (third) was the top-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday's rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Pocono Raceway.

Clint Bowyer also earned a top-10 result with an eighth-place finish at the 2.5-mile Pennsylvania track.

Other Camry drivers in the field at Pocono included Mark Martin (12th), Joey Logano (13th), Travis Kvapil (25th), Landon Cassill (26th), Bobby Labonte (27th), Denny Hamlin (29th), Kyle Busch (33rd), David Stremme (34th), Joe Nemechek (36th), Mike Bliss (39th) and Reed Sorenson (42nd).

Hamlin started second and led three laps (of 98) before being involved in an accident that took his Camry out of the race just prior to the race being called due to rain.

Four Camry drivers are in the top-15 in the unofficial NSCS driver point standings following Indianapolis - Truex (fifth), Hamlin (eighth), Bowyer (10th) and Busch (15th).

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd

How was your race today? "It was good race for my NAPA Toyota. We had a pretty good car all weekend along. We didn't have the greatest qualifying run yesterday and that kind of hurt. Once we got going out there, the last couple runs of the race, we were the fastest car on the track. The car was really, really good today. Obviously we got a little bit lucky there. Before that, we'd been catching a lot of those guys that wrecked. I was really, really hoping for a shot at the restart there being second -- would have been second because the 5 (Kasey Kahne) had a flat. He was going to have to pit. We were really fast at the end. All in all, a great day for the NAPA team. Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and the guys did a great job. Sitting there running eighth or ninth and really fast with a really good car today. Good day for us. Got to thank all the guys at TRD for bringing us new engines the last couple weeks. It was a good, fun race out there and a good finish."

Was it inevitable that last restart was going to be crazy given everybody was watching the radar? "For sure, yeah. The big thing is nobody took tires. We were all trying to save fuel because we knew the rain was coming. A lot of guys had stuff all over their tires. Everybody was throwing rubber off their tires trying to get them cleaned up before we took the restart. So, all that stuff combined into those guys going off into (turn) one, all of them looked like they took off up the track. Fortunately, I was the third guy that didn't slide. The 24 (Jeff Gordon), 5 (Kasey Kahne), and me, we all went down in there and stuck. It's just one of those deals where you're just trying to save fuel and you don't have a lot of time to get the tires cleaned up."

Where is your team with five races left before the Chase? "I'm proud of the team for what we've done and what we've accomplished. This is a big deal for us. To be wherever we're at, we're in pretty good shape. To have Clint (Bowyer) in there, to have Mark (Martin) and Brian (Vickers) and Michael (Waltrip) all doing what they've done in the 55, it's been an awesome team effort all year. It's been a pleasure to work with those guys. Everybody at the company has just done a phenomenal job getting our cars better. I mentioned TRD earlier -- they've been such a huge part of this for us, getting our cars better, our engines better. All that stuff really goes into it. You can't do this without good equipment, good people. Got to thank Michael (Waltrip) and Rob (Kauffman) for what they've done to allow us to get to this point. Clint and Mark have been awesome teammates all year long. I feel like we're in a good place. We had great speed today. We had good speed last week. We're still not exactly where we'd like to be. We'd like to get in victory lane. I felt like if we could have had a shot at the restart today, we might have had a shot at it. We were very fast at the end. We're just going to keep pushing forward, keep digging, hopefully get a win before the Chase starts, and hopefully we can make some noise once it does start."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 8th

Are you happy with your top-10 finish? "We'll take it. I wish we could have had a couple more laps because I know we would have gained a few extra spots, but big picture an eighth place day is not going to hurt us too bad. The 5-hour ENERGY Toyota was good and we were making up ground, but with only a handful of races left until the cutoff we'lll take the points and head to Watkins Glen."

MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 12th

How was your race? "Oh man, I wish we could have restarted that race. The Aaron's Dream Machine was on four fresh tires and we had a fast car. I know we could have passed a lot of cars. A 12th place finish isn't too bad."

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 29th

What happened to cause the accident on the race track? "We were struggling really all day and when guys stay out on old tires -- whatever Goodyear is putting in this new tire that is kind of green substance that is really, really slick and so we all went in turn one and the leaders got in trouble and next thing you know one of the cars slid right in front me and that was about the end of it. We weren't going to win anyway and at this point all we're racing for is wins."

Are you feeling okay? "Yeah. I just had some pains in my stomach, but they've subsided."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 33rd

What happened to take you out of the race? "We just blew out the rear brake rotors -- disintegrated it and then blew out the rear caliper after that. Getting down into turn one with a three-wheel brake is about the worst situation you can have as a race car driver. I kept trying to pump it to keep feeding pressure to the rest of the three wheels to keep it off the fence, but just couldn't do it. I hate it for all of these guys. We had a really fast race car today. We were trying to keep sight on the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) at least. He's going to wax these guys again today. It's just the way it seems to be, but the way our year has gone it's just inevitable to have something every week happen."

Do you have to focus on wins now to get into the Chase? "Pretty much, but the way our year has gone it doesn't even matter."

Did you think things had turned around after your runner-up finish last weekend at the Brickyard? "Yeah, we had hoped we had shaken it, but obviously it's not to be. It's going to hurt us a lot in the points. We're obviously not going to make the top-10, so if we get a win great we'll make the Chase. If not, we'll probably miss it."

Source: Toyota Motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Race report
Tags bowyer, busch, hamilin, martin, toyota, truex, waltrip