Denny Hamlin (fifth) was the highest finishing Camry driver in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Chicagoland Speedway. Brian Vickers (seventh) also earned top-10 finish after starting from the pole -- his fifth pole of the...
Denny Hamlin (fifth) was the highest finishing Camry driver in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Brian Vickers (seventh) also earned top-10 finish after starting from the pole -- his fifth pole of the season.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Marcos Ambrose (11th), David Reutimann (12th), Joey Logano (18th), Michael Waltrip (20th), Kyle Busch (33rd), Robby Gordon (34th), Scott Speed (36th), Mike Skinner (39th), Joe Nemechek (41st) and Dave Blaney (43rd).
Chicagoland marked the first time two Toyota drivers from the same team qualified on the front row for a NSCS race. Red Bull Racing Team's Vickers (first) and Speed (second) led the field to the green flag.
Six Camry drivers are in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS driver point standings -- Hamlin (fifth), Busch (10th), Reutimann (14th), Vickers (16th), Ambrose (18th) and Logano (20th).
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
What did you think of that wild finish? "We gave ourselves a chance. We got into the 5 (Mark Martin) and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) there on that restart. The 83 (Brian Vickers) got a little loose under me and got us up the track, but that's part of it. That's d ouble-file restarts for you right there -- that's what the fans came to see. It was definitely an exciting finish."
Does moving into fifth-place in the points make you more comfortable about the 'Chase'? "I hope so. I don't want to race my way in there (the 'Chase'). We're going to try our best with the FedEx team to keep digging. If we keep getting stronger runs like this, we'll find ourselves in championship condition."
How was your race tonight? "It was a good night. I put myself in position to win right there getting between the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the 5 (Mark Martin). The 83 (Brian Vickers) couldn't hold it down below us and we were racing hard for the win. The guy on the inside is at the mercy of the guy on the outside. You can only really run into the corner so hard. We held him tight and he got into us and knocked us up the track, but that was double -file restarts. We wouldn't have been in position to win that race if it wasn't for that. We took advantage of every opportunity we had tonight."
Was 'clean' air important tonight? "I thought (Mark Martin) was real strong, but he didn't look that strong once it got out of first-place. Nobody was. It seemed like once you got out of the lead, our cars just plowed. Aero was such a big issue in these races that you just can't pass unless you have newer tires than the guys in front of you. I hope we continue to work on that and get it better, but the res tarts were A-plus."
Do you feel your team has improved recently? "We're still in contention, but I feel like we can be a lot better. There's a lot of things that we need to work on our car. My teammates needed to run a little bit better today. We just have to keep working on our cars and they'll get better. We have a long way to go."
What happened between you and Denny Hamlin at the end of the race? "That was just hard racing. I mean, it was the last restart. We knew it was probably going to be to the end of the race. I don't know what happened between him (Denny Hamlin) and Jimmie (Johnson). I don't know if Jimmie (Johnson) just got loose or he (Denny Hamlin) got into Jimmie (Johnson). I thought we had him clear coming off of (turn) two. But, he hung in there on our right rear and he did his job. He was pretty tight. Too tight for his good -- and my good. It ended up getting us really loose. I don't know if he got into us or not. It was just hard racing."
Did that particular restart determine the race outcome? "Yeah. I think whoever won that restart was going to win the race, more than likely -- or the final restart. If there was another caution that came out there at the end, I think the last restart won the race as much as the second to last restart."
How do you feel about another near-miss? "I'm getting tired of near-misses. We had a really good car there at the end. Everybody was racing hard. I mean, that's part of double-file restarts. We saw it. I didn't want to be down there on the bottom. That's why Jimmie (Johnson) was picking outside as the leader. Whoever was on the bottom had a handful with the whole field on the outside, especially going as hard as we were going."
What do you think of the double-file restarts? "They make a great show. There are days like today where it was frustrating. You know what -- I made up two or three spots because I was on the outside for the double-file restarts. It could have been single file and I may not have gotten a couple of those spots we got there at the end. But, I also lost a few at the end because of it. That's just how it's going to be. You're going to win some and you're going to lose some, but it's going to be one helluva show."
Does your finish tonight not really indicate how well you ran? "I felt like we had a top-three car -- at minimum a top-five -- and we finished seventh with at least a top-three car."
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Kingsford-Clorox Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position: 11th
What did you think of the double-file restarts? "That was pretty nasty up there tonight. I think we're all starting to get comfortable with it and starting to push the issue with each other. When we're back in the back, it's very hard to work out what lane you need to be in. If you're tw o laps down than you might give way to one lap down cars, but you never decide who's meant to go where until pretty much the green flag drops. We'll get better at it. I think it's definitely more exciting for the fans and I think it's something the drivers are going to have to deal with. It's not meant to be easy up there. It's the best and hardest racing in the world, and I think NASCAR is trying their best to make it that way."
How do you look back at tonight's race? "We had a good night. We fought hard all day. We had some troubles and went a couple laps down. Pit strategy got us back on track. We got some track position and made the most of it -- just a great night for our team. We just don't give up. It's our first year on most of these tracks and our first time here in a Cup car. It's very hard to expect solid results, but we're really doing it. We're doing it week in and week out and we're excited about that."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 12th
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 18th
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 20th
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 33rd
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 Red Stag/Kid Rock Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
Finishing Position: 34th
MIKE SKINNER, No. 36 Toyota Camry, Tommy Baldwin Racing
Finishing Position: 39th
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