Joey Logano (fifth) and Kyle Busch (eighth) earned top-10 finishes for Toyota in Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte. Other Toyota drivers in the field included David Reutimann (15th), Marcos...
Joey Logano (fifth) and Kyle Busch (eighth) earned top-10 finishes for Toyota in Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included David Reutimann (15th), Marcos Ambrose (22nd), David Gilliland (25th), Scott Speed (28th), Robby Gordon (30th), Michael Waltrip (32nd), Brian Vickers (34th), Terry Labonte (37th), Max Papis (41st), Denny Hamlin (42nd) and Joe Nemechek (43rd).
Hamlin sits 11th and Vickers is now 12th in the unofficial NSCS Chase point standings following Charlotte.
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
What did it take to come back from the pit road incident to finish fifth? "I think we started 12th and plugged along. Then on that first pit stop I go right by my pit stall. We lost a lot of track position there. I went back to 33rd or so. From there we just had to start battling back and it didn't seem like we could catch a break. We tried to go for some pit strategy with two tires and everyone would do it. Or some guys would do two tires and it would work for them and four tires weren't making up as much as you wanted them to. Catching cautions the right way, I felt like I was passing a car or able to pass a couple cars when the caution would come out. Then I would have to restart behind them. Things like that weren't helping our track position all day, but to come down there at the end and get a top-five out of it - that was huge for the whole Home Depot team. Those guys deserve to be in the top-five every week so it's a big deal for me and for them."
What was it like to race against Jeff Gordon in the closing laps? "That was really cool. I will tell you this, I never really got to race against Jeff (Gordon) quite that hard at the end of a race for position. We were running door-to-door and he was on my door trying to take air off and I was down on the bottom trying not to wreck and going as fast as I could to pass him. It was fun, I had a blast. Just came up a little short. I felt like we had a good car, maybe not good enough to win, but I felt like we probably had a car that could have finished in the top-three."
Do you like racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway? "I like this track a lot. I don't know why - I think the big grip kind of makes me feel like I'm in my Nationwide car and for some reason I'm better like that. We finished ninth here last time so this is a good pick up. We had a really good car the first time we were here too."
Does this finish give your team the momentum it has needed? "I came into this weekend really wanting a good finish. I felt like this was a place where we could have one and we got it. We had a good enough car that we were able to come from the back and that is a really good thing. We have been in a slump and we haven't been where we needed to be. Last week we finished 14th and this week we got fifth so hopefully we can build on this and go to Martinsville."
What were you able to learn from Jeff Gordon in the closing laps? "I was trying everything I could. Me and (Clint) Bowyer, we were running him down. I think both of us were faster. I think I was a little bit better than (Clint) Bowyer. Able to get by him and then try to get to (Jeff) Gordon there. He's a smart race car driver. He knew where my car was better than his and he made sure he put his car there so I couldn't get by him. I had to try to work the bottom and it's just hard to get a run off the bottom. He knows what it takes to keep people behind him and we raced real hard. He got down on my door and I was chasing him on the bottom and trying to do everything I can do to pass him. I had a blast. Racing a world class champion race car driver like that, running door to door for a fourth-place finish - that was a bunch of fun. It's still really cool to me. I'm still a rookie on this whole deal. To be racing Jeff Gordon, I never thought that day would happen."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 8th
How was your car in tonight's race? "It was an up and down night for sure. Our M&M's Camry started off pretty good and had some track position to start and I was just being patient. Right before we spun everything seemed fine, but it flipped the switch and it seemed like my right rear was going and ended up losing it coming off of (turn) four not long after. We had a big hole to dig out of from there. We ended up gaining some spots back, but it's tough to pass when you get back in traffic. It seemed like track position was even more important tonight than usual. We got better, but just didn't quite have enough to get back and battle with those guys in the top - five. Thanks to the guys for hanging in there with me tonight. We kept working on it and they gained me some spots on pit road and at least we ended up decent."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 15th
How do you feel after making it through the entire race? "I'm one notch above death is about where we're at. With about 30 (laps) to go, we were struggling pretty bad. The yellows helped a little bit. The guys were able to keep fluids in me and stuff like that. I was good and I was like, 'Man, I'm fine, I'm going to be okay.' Then it was just like I fell off a cliff there. I was having a hard time concentrating and kept getting sick. Getting sick in your helmet is not exactly - I wouldn't recommend it if you can avoid it. Towards the end, the car got better and better as we went. We had a lug nut issue there and had to pit early, that kind of messed us up a little bit. The guys did a good job. They gave me a good car to drive and if it would have been something really, really bad then we wouldn't have been remotely competitive so I'm really proud of my guys."
How much tougher did this race track feel to you tonight? "Anytime you finish up here, you're not exactly ready to go run a marathon or anything. I won't have any problem sleeping. This place is tough, you have to stay on your toes the whole time. Everybody is racing hard and the track was cold so it was fast. We came up a little short there at the end, but we had a pretty good car."
Did you ever consider getting out of the car? "It doesn't matter who you are, you never want to give up your ride. Dave Blaney was there and I appreciate him coming down. Dave (Blaney) would do a tremendous job and probably would have run better than I did really. I waited my whole life to go Cup racing so as long as I still have a pulse, I'm going to stay in the car if I can, as long as it's not going to affect the overall performance of the car. If I'm just not doing the job then I need to get out because it's more than just me involved here, it's a lot of other guys."
When did you start feeling the illness? "I didn't feel bad at all until around the driver's meeting for the Nationwide race. Then I started feeling bad, but during the Nationwide race I was actually okay. I thought maybe I was just coming down with something or whatever and then last night about three or four in the morning I woke up feeling really bad. Then I got up today and it just got worse and worse. When I got up this morning I thought I was going to be in good shape and then around one o'clock I was starting to wonder how things were going to go."
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position: 22nd
DAVID GILLILAND, No. 02 Farm Bureau Insurance Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 25th
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 Freightliner Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
Finishing Position: 30th
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 32nd
TERRY LABONTE, No. 08 Carter-Simo Racing Toyota Camry, Carter-Simo Racing
Finishing Position: 37th
MAX PAPIS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
Finishing Position: 41st
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 42nd
Can you talk about falling out of tonight's race? "It's just a tough night for everyone at FedEx. We've just had a rough couple weeks, you know. The driver made a mistake last week and it cost us and this week, just a parts failure. It's the best I've ever ran at this race track. Had a shot to win it, felt like. I was being so patient behind those guys, not trying to push it and not show everything I had until the very end. Mike (Ford, crew chief) and the guys did a great job providing me a race-winning car. We just didn't have it all put together today. I couldn't be prouder. We're in contention to win every single one of these races, and just can't get it all together. Once we figure it out, we'll be all right."
Do you feel you are out of contention for the championship now? "We're definitely done as far as the championship is concerned. We're going to just keep fighting to stay in that top-10 - that's important to us right now. We're trying to get the best points finish that we can. The way that we're running, we belong up top. A couple mistakes two weeks in a row - one by the driver and one by a mechanical issue, it just takes you right out of it. That's the bad part and what's frustrating about the points system is that you can run really hard and win races in the first 24 and it just doesn't matter. One bad week in the last 10 just completely kills the season and that's what's happened."
What did Joe Gibbs say to you? "Just keep your head up. He doesn't have to tell me that - I know. I've been in this situation before in the three previous Chase years. It's been the same way, we've been competitive enough, but just not able to keep it together on the mechanical side or keep the driver's head in it."
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finishing Position: 43rd
-credit: toyota motorsports