Kyle Busch (fifth-place) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Camry drivers Marcos Ambrose (10th), Martin Truex Jr. (12th) and Reed Sorenson (14th) also had top-15 ...
Kyle Busch (fifth-place) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Camry drivers Marcos Ambrose (10th), Martin Truex Jr. (12th) and Reed Sorenson (14th) also had top-15 finishes at the 1.5-mile Georgia oval.
Hamlin started tonight's race from the pole position marking the 50th pole for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NSCS and 22nd for Toyota since joining the series in 2007.
Hamlin led seven times for 74 (of 325) laps in tonight's race before a mechanical failure took him out of the race on lap 142 and he finished 43rd.
Other Camry drivers in the field included David Reutimann (16th), Casey Mears (26th), Joey Logano (27th), Scott Speed (34th), Kevin Conway (37th), Joe Nemechek (38th) and Mike Bliss (42nd).
Toyota drivers Busch and Hamlin both clinched spots in the 2010 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff which starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway September 19.
Four Camry drivers are currently in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS driver points following the race at Atlanta -- Busch (third), Hamlin (10th), Reutimann (16th) and Truex (20th).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
How were you able to battle back from nearly two laps down? "We fought through an awful lot. It's good to come home with a run like that for the Pedigree guys and the whole Pedigree team. Have to thank all the Mars associates and everyone on this team. They did a good job. We fought through a lot. We just could never get the car exactly the way I wanted it. We battled hard and made some good adjustments. We came from almost two laps down today and got back on the lead lap. Have to thank Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys on pit road for good pit stops. What more could you ask for, I guess."
How strong was your race car to be able to come from 36th-place to a top-five finish? "It was a hard fought battle and that's what it's going to take the next 10 races is to come back like this. We have good cars and we had a great race car today. It was really fast in the early portion of the race and some guys made some adjustments and got a little bit better than we did. We never really picked up any time, we just kind of bounced back and forth with the balance of the car. I can't thank the Pedigree guys enough today and the whole Pedigree team, all the Mars associates and everyone that's helped us get to where we are and clinch a spot in the Chase. Hopefully we can go out and carry this momentum into next week and have another strong run at Richmond. Then go after these final 10."
How loose was Jeff Burton in the closing laps? "(Jeff) Burton was sideways. I told him, I said, 'You guys have more horsepower than the Lord allows.' He's just spinning the tires all the way to the start-finish line, pulling away from me. They had a fast, but loose, awfully loose race car. He held onto it, I don't know how he held onto it. Normally I can drive loose race cars, but I would be going the wrong way if I was that loose."
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position: 10th
How was your race tonight?
"It was a good night for us. Just a good top-10 for us and those have been hard to come by on one-and-a-half mile tracks for us. Strong night, but the car was walking around a lot. Just had to man-up and get it done. We've just had a rough run and we just have to keep trying and good things will happen."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip
Finishing Position: 12th
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Outdoors Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip
Finishing Position: 16th
Did the radio problems you had impact tonight's race? "That was just a long night. We had an issue with the radio early on and I couldn't hear the spotter or crew chief, so NASCAR black flagged us and we ended up two laps down. We got one back pretty quick, but it took us almost all night to finally get the lucky dog and get back on the lead lap. And once we finally got back on the lead lap we were almost out of time to make up any significant ground. It was a pretty frustrating night, but I'm proud of my guys. They gave me a great Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota. We just never had the opportunity to show how good the car was after the deal with the radio. That was a tough night. Hopefully we can do a little better next week in Richmond."
How were you able to fight your way back from a lap down? "It was a long night. We were trapped a lap down and we almost took the wave around and we didn't. We tried to get it the normal way to get the 'lucky dog' and we got that. Then the last run there was pretty good and fought our way back up. The car was decent the last half of the race and was pretty good. We were just trapped a lap down. We didn't get any damage on the car, it was pretty good. I think we learned some things about the car so it was a good weekend overall."
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
Finishing Position: 26th
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 27th
KEVIN CONWAY, No. 7 Extenze Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
Finishing Position: 37th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finishing Position: 38th
MIKE BLISS, No. 55 Toyota Camry, PRISM Motorsports
Finishing Position: 42nd
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 43rd
Was there any indication that the motor was going away in your car? "Just that the 20 (Joey Logano) lost his engine and that was a little bit worrisome for myself. I noticed a little bit of a vibration on deceleration around lap 30, but I didn't really think anything of it. I didn't think it was going to be as bad as it was. I saw the 20 have problems and then I was pretty worried."
Is this an example of the reliability you spoke about yesterday here at Atlanta Motor Speedway? "It's just the reliability part of it. The good news is that we brought our best race car to the race track and said that this was going to be a Chase race and this was going to be a test for us. It was an A-plus on the race track. The car handled great. I was just messing around out there and having a good time. It's frustrating. I know if we had the reliability that we could win this championship and the odds would be pretty good to win the championship if I can just keep it together for 10 weeks."
Were you able to find out what went wrong with the engine? "Trying to get an explanation, but he (Mike Ford, crew chief) really doesn't know. Until we get back to the shop. The thing is that the motor is so destroyed right now that you're never going to find out. It's just been tough on us the last three years. When it gets down to the Chase, it seems like we have a lot of issues and problems with keeping our cars together and today was just a small sign of that."
-source: toyota motorsports