David Reutimann (fourth) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Denny Hamlin (sixth) and Brian Vickers (seventh) also finished in the top-10 for Toyota. Camry ...
David Reutimann (fourth) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Denny Hamlin (sixth) and Brian Vickers (seventh) also finished in the top-10 for Toyota.
Camry drivers Kyle Busch (13th), Robby Gordon (16th), Joey Logano (22nd), Marcos Ambrose (23rd), Scott Speed (24th), Michael Waltrip (32nd), Terry Labonte (39th), Max Papis (40th), Joe Nemechek (42nd) and Dave Blaney (43rd) were also in the field for the 325-lap race on the 1.5-mile Georgia oval.
Hamlin clinched a berth in the 2009 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' with the sixth-place result, the fourth-consecutive time -- second with Toyota -- that the Chesterfield, Va.-native will compete for the NSCS championship.
With one race remaining before the 'Chase' cutoff, Vickers moved up to 13th in the unofficial standings, just 20 points out of the 12th and final 'Chase' spot. Busch (14th in points) is 37 markers behind 12th heading into next weekend's race at Richmond International Raceway (Sept. 13).
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
Can you talk about your race tonight? "We had a really good Aaron's Dream Machine. My guys gave me some good pit stops right at the end when it counted. We just had one set of tires on the car that the car didn't like very much. We just kept coming in and working on it. The guys did a great job. I'm really proud. We have run so bad here in the past. It really feels almost like a win. We had a good car. How about these fans, man? They had a lot of people here for the night race. I gotta thank all the fans for coming. If they don't show up, we have no reason to be here, so I have to thank them."
Do you think you had a shot at the win at the last restart? "You never know. It took us a little while to get going. I think Kasey (Kahne) spun the tires a little bit and I didn't want to run into him and that let the 11 (Denny Hamlin) get by us. By the time we got back by the 11 (Hamlin), those guys kind of got away from us a little bit. All in all, for where we started and the way we have run here in the past, I'm really proud of my guys. Toyota Racing Development, they did a great job, too."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Farm Bureau Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
How difficult was the race tonight? "It was difficult, that's for sure. It just seemed like the track had stages it went through. I've never seen a track change so much during the course of the race. We were the only guy that maintained up front from the front to the end of the race. I don't know what it was. The track changed, and it seemed like every set of tires we put on was different. It was a challenge today to just get the balance."
What does it mean to make the 'Chase' this year? "It's great for our whole FedEx team, and Farm Bureau for coming on this weekend. It's a pretty good accomplishment to make it fours in a row, every year that we've tried. I just can't say enough for this team. If we keep running the next 11 (races) like we have this last 10 or 11, they're going to have to watch out for us."
Can you talk about the race tonight? "That was a wild night. We obviously had a really good car. (Kevin) Harvick was unbelievable. He was really good that one stretch. We were running second and our night turned sour on us there on a pit stop. We had a left-rear axle break. Don't really know why yet. The guys did a tremendous job getting that fixed. To be able to change an axle and not go a lap down and come all the way back to finish seventh. We passed a couple of the guys we're racing for the 'Chase,' which is most important -- I guess we're 20 points out now. Disappointed that we had that failure because we had a really good car. We probably could've been competing for a win. I'm so proud of the guys tonight. Nobody gave up. Ryan stayed on top of the calls as far as the handling of the car. The guys did a great job on the stops and getting the axle fixed and salvaged a top-10."
What do you think will happen at Richmond next weekend? "It's going to be a battle to the end, I'm sure. It's going to be wild. I'm looking forward to it. We'd like to go into Richmond locked into the 'Chase,' but to go in there even in contention, I think for a two-and-a-half year old team, says a lot. I'm really proud of these guys -- Red Bull and Toyota -- how far we've come. Six poles, a win and we're battling for the 'Chase.' No matter what happens, I think we have to walk away with our heads held high. Nights like tonight, that's the reason we're in contention. We had a car that could win, we had a parts failure, but we came back from it and still finished seventh."
Do you like your chances heading into Richmond? "I like Richmond. We have had some good runs. We just gotta go there and continue to do the same thing. We can't give up. We have had really good cars lately. We have to keep that momentum going, as far as speed is concerned. Hopefully we'll have a little bit better luck than we had tonight. We have been battling for a win and probably would be in the 'Chase' right now if it wasn't for that axle, but the guys did a good job getting it changed and we're still in contention."
What does it say about the team that you can overcome a problem to finish in the top-10? "It definitely gives you confidence in the team and what we're capable of. We know we can have a fast car. When you have problems and you come back from them, that's really what a championship team is about. Everybody is going to take their turn in the barrel through the season. We have taken a lot more than most this year, but the guys have done a good job rebounding. Just like tonight. To break an axle in the position we are in the 'Chase,' trying to fight into the 'Chase' was just devastating. Nobody lost their cool, calmer heads prevailed, we got the axle changed, didn't lose a lap and came back to finished seventh."
What were your thoughts when the axle broke? "I was trying to stay as optimistic as possible. Needless to say, it wasn't easy. Breaking an axle is a pretty devastating blow in the middle of the race. I wasn't sure we were going to be able to change it and not lose a lap. Even if we didn't lose a lap, as long as we didn't lose two, I knew we had a fast car -- but it was definitely going to hurt our shot. My biggest fear, when it first happened, I thought we broke a drive shaft or a transmission or a rear-end gear, which would've obviously put us out of the race."
What are your thoughts heading into Richmond? "We've done all we can. We've put ourselves in position. The only thing we didn't do right tonight was put a different axle in the car. I'm not going to say that we had the wrong manufacturer, because I'm sure we have the right one. Sometimes things just happen. It's just a parts failure. It broke. I'm sure they'll find out why. I don't know why. That was the only thing we were lacking tonight. We had the car. We had the crew. Ryan (Pemberton, crew chief) made the right calls. We had a fast car. We had a shot at winning the race. We broke an axle but nobody gave up. They kept their heads calm. We got it changed, stayed on the lead lap, and came back to finish seventh. Considering, I'm really proud of the guys and we're still in contention."
"We broke an axle. I can't say enough about the guys that were involved with fixing it. I'm not saying we have a 'play' for that, but we have a 'play' for that. The guys that fixed it without losing a lap are the same guys that worked together with me a few years back and the same thing happened and we didn't lose a lap then. When it happened, I was like, 'Okay guys, you know what to do.' It went flawless. That was pretty cool to be able to bounce back from that and change the axle."
When was the other time that it happened? "It was with the Army car with Joe Nemechek. We broke one and we used the same technique to change the axle and not go down a lap then. We actually called a teammate in from the 82 -- Charlie Brock who was involved with that before -- and Mark Bieberich (car chief) and Dave Woodhead (rear changer). They all knew exactly what to do and how to do it. It was really a cool thing to watch."
Can you explain how it happened? "When it happened I think I said, 'It's the left side. Do you guys know what to do?' They brought the axles up and they knew what they had to do. It's pretty cool to see it happen and see the guys react the way they did. I can't say enough about them."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 13th
STEVE ADDINGTON, Crew Chief, No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How would you assess tonight's race? 'It didn't turn out the way we wanted it to -- everybody saw that. The start of the race there, the car was pretty decent. The track temps came down, we made adjustments and you saw it all across the board with the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) car. He was up there with us leading the race and then they went backwards. It was that way for a lot of people. The 9 (Kasey Kahne) car was real good all night long. The 29 (Kevin Harvick) hit on something and they were fast. We fought the set-up all night long. We need to go back and reevaluate where we were. Everybody worked hard at Joe Gibbs Racing these past couple weeks -- with the weekend off and everything -- and we came here with what we thought was a good car. We just battled it."
What are your thoughts heading to Richmond next week? "To go win. We got to go there and win and let the chips fall where they may. We've been working hard -- nothing we can do now. We can't control what everybody else does we can only control what we do. We need to go to Richmond and win the race."
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 Polaris Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
Finishing Position: 16th
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 22nd
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Kingsford/Clorox Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position: 23rd
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 32nd
TERRY LABONTE, No. 08 Simo-Carter Racing Toyota Camry, Simo-Carter Racing
Finishing Position: 39th
MAX PAPIS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
Finishing Position: 40th
What happened to put you out of the race? "I don't know. We were running our race and unfortunately it was a short day for the GEICO Toyota. I drove it into turn two and it just went straight into the wall. I don't know exactly what happened. It was a really hard impact. Thanks though to the soft walls and the good quality of my GEICO Toyota car. The car felt great. I just drove it into turn two and the car went straight into the wall. We were learning. We made the car better. This is a tough track for the first time and we just took it step-by-step."
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finishing Position: 42nd
DAVE BLANEY, No. 66 Prism Motorsports Toyota Camry, Prism Motorsports
Finishing Position: 43rd
-credit: toyota motorsports