Camry driver Kyle Busch earned his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) victory of 2009 on Saturday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The victory marks the third Sprint Cup win for Busch at the Tennessee half-mile 'bullring' and second...
Camry driver Kyle Busch earned his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) victory of 2009 on Saturday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
The victory marks the third Sprint Cup win for Busch at the Tennessee half-mile 'bullring' and second this season.
Busch led once for 68 (of 500) laps after starting 15th in the race in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Camry.
Tonight's win marks the second NSCS win for Toyota at Bristol, eighth NSCS win in 2009 and 18th since joining the series in 2007.
Toyota drivers Marcos Ambrose (third) and Denny Hamlin (fifth) also posted top-five finishes at Bristol.
Camry drivers Brian Vickers (12th), Scott Speed (15th), David Reutimann (17th), Michael Waltrip (31st), Robby Gordon (32nd), Joey Logano (34th), Terry Labonte (40th), Joe Nemechek (41st) and Dave Blaney (43rd) were also in the field.
Hamlin (fourth) is the highest-ranking Toyota driver in the unofficial NSCS driver point standings following Bristol. With two races remaining before the 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' begins, Busch (13th, 34 points behind 12th), Vickers (14th, 39 points), Reutimann (16th, 160 points), Ambrose (17th, 306 points) and Logano (19th, 458 points) are also in the top-20 in NSCS points. The top-12 drivers in the points after Richmond (Sept. 12) make the 'Chase' field.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How does it feel to win tonight at Bristol? "To race in the Sprint Cup Series with all these guys is really an honor. Mark Martin, what a class act. He deserved to win this race and I'm sorry he came home second -- I know he feels. I drove as hard as I could and he had a chance, he could have done it, but he didn't. He raced me clean. We didn't have the best car tonight, but we had a car capable enough of doing it if I could drive it hard enough. I gave it everything I had. This is pretty crazy -- we wanted to win here so long. Really have to thank M&M's, Toyota, Interstate Batteries, everybody at Sprint and of course Tom Murphy (Senior Vice President for Sprint) -- our thoughts go out to those guys. Thank Directv, Marquis Jets and the fans. It's mixed emotions, but there's a lot of good, there's definitely a lot of good and we love all of them."
How much did you have to adjust on your race car tonight? "It was big -- I tried giving everything I had to Steve (Addington, crew chief) and sometimes it's just frustrating when you work on your car, you make changes and you don't get it quite the way you want it. It takes time sometimes and we still didn't have the best there tonight, but we had a good enough car where we made it. I'm so proud of these guys -- all these M&M's team guys that do so much work at the shop. They work their butt off here at the race track. We had good pit stops all night, there were a couple flaws, but we were pulling rubbers and stuff that we lost spots on. We made a lot of adjustments tonight and that paid dividends and I'm hoping this just isn't a fluke to get in the 'Chase.' We need to run well in Atlanta and again at Richmond, and then we can do it."
What do you think about the final two tracks coming up before the 'Chase?' "There are -- Atlanta earlier this year wasn't great for us, we really have to work it out there. We feel like Richmond will be really strong and we feel like we can do the same thing we did here tonight at that place. Atlanta we'll work on and try to make the best that we can out of it. We seem to run well at the high-banked mile-and-a-halves so hopefully we can go back to some notes from last year and make something happen to come out with another top-five."
What was it like to race with Mark Martin throughout the race and especially the closing laps? "It's fun when you're able to race around the guys that respect you and that you respect back. So Mark (Martin) is one of those guys. I mean, you know, I go up to Mark (Martin) all the time and I talk to him all the time. I look up to him a lot. He wasn't the guy that I always looked up to when I was growing up at a kid. But since I've gotten here, he's been one of the closest drivers I've been able to spend time with -- him along with Jeff Burton. Besides the young ones like (Scott) Speed and (Denny) Hamlin, the veteran guys, those are the two most guys I probably go to. It was a blast. I mean, I can't say enough about Mark (Martin). I tried giving him enough room so we could try to race side-by-side and have a good strong run for the fans there. Like coach said, they were electric tonight. When the red flag came out, they didn't stop. Heck, you would have thought the racing was still going on. They were doing the wave and everything. They were fired up tonight for sure."
STEVE ADDINGTON, crew chief, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What was tonight's race like from your perspective? "It was nerve-wracking. Made some adjustments and it didn't respond like we thought it would. Just kind of trying to figure out what it was going to take to make the right adjustments to get him to beat the 5 (Mark Martin) car and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson). That was the biggest thing, just trying to figure out what he needed to get going there."
JOE GIBBS, owner, Joe Gibbs Racing
From a coaching perspective, how would you compare Kyle Busch to Tony Stewart when he started with you? "I think as a coach, I've always wanted to be the guy that was the good athlete. I wasn't, so I wound up being a coach. But I think you work with all different kinds of athletes. We talked about football. The thing that in the end that you really want from your players or drivers or crew members or crew chiefs is a real passion for what they do. I think that if you got that in your players and you obviously can deal with the different personalities, and everybody is a little different, you know. You go back to Tony (Stewart) when he was first here, he wore everything on his sleeve. If you remember, some of the same statements we made about Kyle (Busch) we were making about Tony (Stewart). It was that first 10 minutes when he got out of the car when we had a few problems, and then the next day he was great. I do wish this. I've said to people, I wish they could see Kyle (Busch) the way we see him, away from the race track, just sitting around talking, having fun, or maybe over at NASCAR theme park where he's bought the night out for some kids."
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie/Kingsford/Clorox Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
How special was it to finish third at Bristol? "Just a wonderful night for me. My first year in the Cup Series -- to be racing with Mark in his thousandth start, racing with Kyle Busch, who will probably go down in history as one of the best of all time, I just feel privileged to be out there and running with them. Great day for me, great night for my sponsors -- just really thrilled. First-year team, first-year driver -- to be running up there like we did tonight is pretty special. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. behind me, Greg Biffle beside me -- I am good friends with Greg (Biffle). If I was doing the wrong thing by Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.), I was going to get lynched by 50,000 people trying to get out here. I didn't want to mess him. I wanted to race him hard. I wanted to race him. You know you're in very special territory up there. I'm just thrilled to be up there and thrilled to finish like we did with good car speed. I didn't have anything for Mark (Martin) and Kyle (Busch), but just a great night."
Why do you run so well at Bristol? "I don't know why I've run so well here. Both races we've done really well. I just try to drive the racecar. I don't do anything but rely on my instincts, try to drive around the track as fast as I can. I just love Bristol. I love NASCAR. It's the best form of racing I've ever experienced. The cars are hard to drive, way too much power, not enough tire, not enough brakes. It's a real challenge to survive out there. We're doing it. I don't think there's any track we can't do this. I've had trouble at places like Michigan and Atlanta, those tracks, but I'm not sure whether it's me, I'm not sure whether it's the way I'm trying to set them up. I'll work it out over time. I just want to be here for the long haul. I want to be here again and again and again because I just love NASCAR. I feel privileged to be in the sport. I just love every lap that I do."
Do you feel like you have 'made it' in the Sprint Cup Series? "I don't feel like I'm comfortable. I don't feel like I'm safe in the sport, I don't. Consistency is an issue for me. I have good runs like this and then I'll back it up like last week and run 35th. I don't feel secure. I feel privileged to be driving for Tad and Jody Geschickter (team owners, JTG-Daugherty). They have given me a chance of a lifetime and I want to pay them back as much as I can. We're just thrilled to be in the sport. Like I said, I didn't ask anything from anybody. I didn't expect to be given any breaks. I didn't want any special treatment. I knew I had to learn from scratch, fight my way up through the categories. I've finished top 10 both years in the Nationwide Series with a limited budget against the big Cup teams. Really proud of what we've done. We've kept growing, kept moving forward. We haven't finished. We announced a wonderful sponsor today in Kleenex. In a time where sponsorships are dropping and teams are reducing what they're doing, we're growing. It's just very exciting time for us."
What were you able to learn on restarts tonight? "Well, I just got greedy on a couple restarts there. I wanted to win the race so bad -- 850 horsepower, hot tires, a concrete track. I just got greedy on the right foot and spun the tires. Last restart I just tried to baby it to make sure I just solidified my position. Managed to get past Greg (Biffle) on the inside there. He was pinched down. That's all I needed to do. I'm learning as I go. When you get an opportunity to run at the front like that with six laps to go, you can't learn that anywhere else but when you're out there doing it. You're up against the best. When you make a mistake, you're exposed -- but really proud to have finished third tonight and had a good last restart. I just tried always to keep my nose clean. I don't want to ruin anybody's race. I want to race as hard as I can. When my night is on, I'm going to race as hard as anyone and take those chances, try to do it clean. I did it at Watkins Glen on Kyle (Busch). I did it tonight. Hopefully I'll do it next week at Montreal. When I get my chance at the front, I try to do the right thing. I try to race them hard, but fair."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Can you talk about your race tonight? "It was definitely a good day. We had a good car. We just never got an opportunity to really start up there and start on the outside line with those guys. I think we got up to fifth and had a bad last pit stop that put us back to 11th or so and then we had to work our way slowly to the front from there. The race really wasn't long enough for us."
What were you thinking when you had the tire problem early in the race? "When we had the tire problem, I knew we could still rebound. We were going to have to get it back the hard way. We got the 'lucky dog' -- it seemed like it took 200 laps to get that. I wasn't passed under green all race, not one car passed us under green. We don't have a scratch on us. We had a good car; we just didn't have enough time."
How hard was it tonight to come from the back? "We got back early with that flat tire and just took a long time to get back up on the lead lap. Once we did that, we just passed a bunch of cars all day. I don't remember passing this many cars on a race day. It just took a little while to get up front and we just needed a little longer run there at the end."
"Tonight wasn't one of our best finishes, but it definitely could have been worse. Bristol has never been one of my better tracks in a Cup car for whatever reason. Ryan (Pemberton, crew chief) made some great calls for track position, and we were able to get the 'Lucky Dog' twice. The car was the best of the night towards the end of the race and we were able to rally for a 12th- place finish. Now our sites are set on Atlanta in two weeks. It sucks losing a spot in the points, but don't count us out - this team doesn't give up. We are still very much in this."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 Hard Rock Las Vegas Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
TERRY LABONTE, No. 08 Simo-Carter Racing Toyota Camry, Simo-Carter Racing
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
DAVE BLANEY, No. 66 Prism Motorsports Toyota Camry, Prism Motorsports
-credit: toyota motorsports