Watkins Glen International - August 10, 2009 Marcos Ambrose (second) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Monday's rain-postponed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Watkins Glen International. It was the best NSCS finish of Ambrose's...
Watkins Glen International - August 10, 2009
Marcos Ambrose (second) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Monday's rain-postponed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Watkins Glen International. It was the best NSCS finish of Ambrose's career.
The 32-year-old Australian led twice for nine laps in the 90-lap event around the 2.45-mile, 11-turn New York road course.
Kyle Busch (fourth) also finished in the top-five for Toyota, and led twice for 15 laps on Monday.
Toyota drivers Max Papis (eighth) and Denny Hamlin (10th) also posted top-10 finishes at Watkins Glen.
Camry drivers Brian Vickers (11th), Joey Logano (16th), Robby Gordon (18th), Scott Speed (22nd), David Reutimann (25th), Patrick Carpentier (33rd), P.J. Jones (41st) and Dave Blaney (42nd) were also in the field.
Hamlin (fifth) is the highest-ranking Toyota driver in the unofficial NSCS driver point standings following Watkins Glen. With four races remaining before the 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' begins, Busch (13th, 58 points behind 12th), Vickers (14th, 96 points), Reutimann (16th, 155 points), Ambrose (17th, 269 points) and Logano (19th, 405 points) are also in the top-20 in NSCS points. The top-12 drivers in points after Richmond (Sept. 12) make the 'Chase' field.
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie/Kingsford/Clorox Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Do you think you had a chance to win at the end? "The Cup car is just so aggressive to drive and I had to work really hard to keep up with 'Smoke' (Tony Stewart). I was closing in, but he didn't make a mistake. What a fantastic driver he is. He's just unbelievable. I feel privileged to be racing against him and to drive for my team. I'm just so proud of all my guys for giving me great stuff all year. JTG-Daugherty (Racing) is here to say with the help of Michael Waltrip Racing. It's a really exciting time for us."
Can you talk about your race today? It was just a great weekend for us. We didn't quite have enough to get Tony (Stewart) there at the end. I threw everything I could at him. We got off strategy for some run the way the race rolled for us. We got stuck. We got stuck in the back of the pack and had to make a gamble. We came in and splashed off fuel -- didn't put tires on it. I think that was the difference between first and second here this afternoon, was just the extra laps I did on my tires, probably eight or 10 more laps than Tony. I could close in on him, I could see him starting to make a few little mistakes, locking tires, but not enough for me to catch him. I'm just really proud of my team. We didn't quite close the deal, but it's just been a great weekend for us. I'm really excited for our future."
Is second-place frustrating for you? "No, no. Not at all. We were very fast in practice. Unfortunately, you know, the track was hotter and slicker than what we wanted. We just didn't quite have the grip we had on Saturday. I talked the team into making a couple of changes for me that I thought were better. They were on Saturday. With the hot, slick track, we were slightly aggressive. We'll learn from it for next year and hopefully go one more spot up the sheet."
When did your team decide to get off-sequence on pit stops? "It was the first stop. We were third. We stayed out. Everybody pitted except for three cars. Then our destiny was set. We couldn't pit with everybody else because we were off-sequence. We had to just try to then run our own race and just have the shortest pit stop we could as soon as we could make it home. When that caution came out, that 10 laps shy of our number, our lap number to make it home, we stopped, got tires, got fuel, then we splashed after 10 laps and came in and took off. That's the difference right there. The very first caution flag is what set our course for the day.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Can you talk about your race today? "That wore me out right there. I could barely hang on to fourth. It was great for all the M&M's team guys. They did a great job this weekend. We fought hard. It was three times harder than I had to drive here last year, and last year we spanked them."
MAX PAPIS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
What was your team's game plan for today's race? "We had a game plan that was attacking from the first lap, respectfully. I think that's what we did. I got awesome restarts in the beginning. I think I put the GEICO car in the position to be able to be a contender. My guys did an insane strategy. We were fantastic on fuel. The Toyota engine was really well calibrated today. I was really saving a lot of fuel. I used a lot of those days of sports car racing where fuel mileage is everything. I used it all today. We ran out of gas 300 feet after the 'start-finish' line when we got the checkered flag. That's not luck; that's calculation. My guys told me, 'I think you're not going to make it around after the checkered flag.' These guys here are tough. I'm really proud of that."
What does this finish mean for the organization? "We are a small organization. The GEICO team, we are just a small family. Every success is felt through the skin of everybody. Everyone in the shop works really hard. We maximize what we have. GEICO gave me and the team opportunity of our lives. I'm proud that I paid them back today because you need to capitalize in these moments. Spinning off in turn one, it doesn't take that much. It's a calculated aggression. I was proud that I learned a lot. I took the car home. But I can tell you that I never cruised one lap. I went hard, hard, hard every lap."
How were the double-file restarts? "I love it. I think double-file restarts -- I don't see anything wrong with it. That's what I've always done in my career. I found it a little different when I came here, single file. Maybe you were 20th and you were getting the green when you were further back, so you didn't have much chance to fight hard. At the end of the day, these guys are all professionals. If they want to punt you off, it takes nothing. They can do it any second. I think is a 'give-and-take.' They know it just takes a second to ruin the race of someone else. I was pleased that nobody abused me in a way. I pushed them around a little bit, and I felt that was just great."
What knowledge did you use in today's race and what did you learn? "I used a little bit of different things I learned. Saving fuel. Had a good meeting with Andy (Graves, Cup Series program manager, Toyota Racing Development) yesterday from Toyota. He told me what was the best way to save fuel, and I did it. I was trying to keep the engine as cool as possible during restarts because we know we have more power if we are below 200 (degrees). All those little things that makes a big difference. Today, I come out of this knowing that this is a very, very tough form of motorsport, point-blank. Every time I call back to Italy, I say this is like endurance racing and rally driving at the same time because you need to improvise because the cars move around. They don't always do exactly what you want. But at the same time you need to have stamina and endurance. You're in the car for a long time. It's tough."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Can you talk about your race today? "That penalty (pit road speeding) early on really hurt us, but to drop that far back and work our way back into the top-10 says a lot about this FedEx team. We kept after it and got a good result. We were really good at the start, the car was good, we passed the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and were chasing the 2 (Kurt Busch) but the penalty set us back. I feel like we had a car that could win today but we'll take this top-10 and look forward to Michigan."
Can you talk about today's race? "The brake problems we had Friday in practice hurt us because we weren't able to get the laps in and make the adjustments we needed to be prepared for today. We were behind in track position because of it and fought a tight condition all day, especially in turn five. Ryan (Pemberton, crew chief) made some great calls and we made the most of the day, finishing 11th and gaining a few points towards the Chase. We are all looking forward to the race in Michigan next weekend."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 Jim Beam Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
Can you talk about your race today? "This was my first time to Watkins Glen, so we had hoped to have a decent finish. We didn't have the day we were looking for today. We really struggled with getting the right setup on our car. Pit strategy allowed us to lead a few laps which helped helped us gain a few extra points. It's a shame we only have two road course races on the schedule, I would have loved another shot at it."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
PATRICK CARPENTIER, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
P.J. JONES, No. 04 Jim Beam/Menards Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
DAVE BLANEY, No. 66 Prism Motorsports Toyota Camry, Prism Motorsports
-credit: toyota motorsports