Denny Hamlin leads Toyota troops at Kentucky

Hamlin led the Toyota contingent at Kentucky with a third-place finish

Camry driver Denny Hamlin (third) was the top-finishing Toyota driver in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Kentucky Speedway.

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Hamlin led the field three times for 58 laps (of 267) en route to his eighth top-five finish of the season.

Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch (10th), led the field five times for a race-high 118 circuits.

Camry driver Travis Kvapil (17th) led one lap on the 1.5-mile oval track.

Martin Truex Jr. (eighth) also recorded a top-10 finish at Kentucky Speedway.

Other Toyota drivers in the field included Clint Bowyer (16th), Joey Logano (22nd), Landon Cassill (25th), Bobby Labonte (27th), Michael Waltrip (30th), David Stremme (36th), Joe Nemechek (40th) and Mike Bliss (42nd). Four Camry drivers are in the top-15 in the unofficial NSCS driver point standings following Kentucky -- Hamlin (fifth), Bowyer (seventh), Truex (eighth) and Busch (12th).

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 3rd Did you race as hard as you could the last few laps? "Well, I did the exact opposite. I ran the least hard as I could all run. I had to save fuel. I could have ran harder really the whole run and try to give the 2 (Brad Keselowski) a run for its money, but I needed a finish coming off two straight DNFs. Our priority was to finish tonight and it was a good run for our FedEx Express Toyota. I wish we had on board computers so we know how much fuel we had left, cause I just didn't know how much to run there at the end."

Did you know the right rear tire was going down on the last run? "Well, I knew that I was getting progressively tighter, but no I didn't know what was going on. That last run -- it's a shame - - we had such good speed at the beginning of the run, but I had to back it off and start to save fuel. Had I known how much fuel I had left, maybe I would have run down the 2 (Brad Keselowski). But, I just couldn't risk it. And then at the end, one spot is not worth not finishing. So, I had to back it down to make sure I could make it on fuel first and get a finish. After two straight DNFs our FedEx team needed a good finish."

Could you have kept up with Brad Keselowski if you didn't have to save fuel? "We backed way off and really at the beginning of the run, once we passed the 17 (Matt Kenseth) and 99 (Carl Edwards) -- we were making ground on the 2 (Brad Keselowski). If I was going to run the pace the 2 was -- there was no way I was going to make it on fuel. So, the question would I had to do -- I had to back it down and just conserve. It's a great day for our FedEx Toyota. These are the days we need. We were just a few points from the points leader a few weeks ago and we find ourselves almost out of the top-10 after these last two weeks, so we needed a solid points night."

How strong was your race car? "Our car was really strong. We got it better as the day went on. I'm proud of this FedEx team. We needed a finish and that was my first priority on that last run. It wasn't to chase down the 2 (Brad Keselowski) -- although I would have loved to do it. I had to run the pace that I had to run to make it on fuel. It was kind of anti-climactic when it comes to that, but still a great run for us."

Why did you announce your contract extension with Joe Gibbs racing on Twitter before the race? "Anybody that follows me on Twitter -- I like to give them the information first. A proud moment for us and Joe Gibbs Racing to sign an extension and know where we're going to be -- what car I'm going to be in -- for the foreseeable future. Proud to be with FedEx and Joe Gibbs Racing and hopefully we'll win a championship together."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 8th How was tonight's race? "It's tough. We weren't very good all night. We had a good finish -- I guess. It pushed like hell all night and they could never fix it."

Did you hit something on the track during the race? "Yeah. That didn't help none. We we're just really tight all night and we couldn't do anything to fix it."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Red-White-Blue Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 10th Was it difficult to race with a damaged shock? "Yeah, it's definitely not any fun -- not as much fun as we were having early. Tough night again, once again. Just had to persevere and try to get through the best we could. Broke a shock mount. Then it broke a shock and just all ensued after that. So, tough night again for these M&M's guys. We salvaged a heck of a finish for what all we had to go through. Definitely not any fun to drive, but had to do what we could on three pogo sticks.

Did the shock break when you hit the wall? "No. There was about 80 laps of separation."

How do you feel about your position in the point standings? "We're still within reach and everything. We're certainly not running the way we need to be running."

DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M's Red-White-Blue Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How did your team overcome adversity to record a top-10 result? "I'm really proud of this M&M's Toyota Camry group. One thing that we said we had to work on this year was overcoming adversity and the last several weeks has given us our fair share of adversity and I think we did a really good job this week of overcoming it, staying focused and getting the best finish possible. Kyle (Busch) was driving a great race. We had a really fast race car and we had a mechanical failure in the back of the car. It's definitely something we need to go back to the shop and fix and make sure that never happens again. I do not think it's related to Kyle getting in the fence earlier. He scraped the fence -- that's part of everyday racing. That's not a big deal. I think we've got to go back and do a little bit better on our design work, make the part a little bit beefier and we'll be fine."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 16th

TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing Finishing Position: 17th

JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 22nd What happened with your cooling system in the car? "Well my 'AC' broke on lap 20, so I didn't have a fan or anything -- just really, really hot. Never quit and that's why we work out for days like today. Didn't screw up my focus any, which is a cool factor. But, it's not the finish we looked for today. I think we were 22nd. Just got hit from behind and knocked in my quarter panel and made me really, really loose for a few laps and never caught a caution like we needed."

LANDON CASSILL, No. 83 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing Finishing Position: 25th

BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Scotts Products Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 27th

MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 30th Did it feel good to race at your 'home' track? "Yeah. We ran well at times and had some issues. Just spotted them too much on yesterday, you know. Yesterday didn't go well and I was nervous about today and, shoot, once I got out there I could really contend and compete."

Could you enjoy tonight racing at Kentucky Speedway? "I was too nervous. I was too worried about running bad. We took off and run pretty decent. I just know that our team builds really good race cars. That's a good feeling car right there and I'm proud of my team."

DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Inception Motorsports Camry, Inception Motorsports Starting Position: 36th

JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 40th

MIKE BLISS, No. 19 Humphrey Smith Racing, LLC Toyota Camry, Humphrey Smith Racing Finishing Position: 42nd

Source: Toyota Motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Michael Waltrip , Joe Nemechek , Mike Bliss , Martin Truex Jr. , Carl Edwards , Landon Cassill , David Stremme , Clint Bowyer , Brad Keselowski , Denny Hamlin , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch , Travis Kvapil
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing , BK Racing , NEMCO Motorsports
Article type Race report
Tags busch, hamlin, logano, toyota, truex, waltrip