TOYOTA TALK: Hamlin Chats About Championship Chances Observation on Kansas Track Vickers View on Best Pit Stops NEWS, NOTES & NUMBERS: Toyota Camry drivers have combined for nine wins (Kyle Busch -- Las Vegas, Bristol-1, Richmond and Bristol-2;...
Hamlin Chats About Championship Chances
Observation on Kansas Track
Vickers View on Best Pit Stops
NEWS, NOTES & NUMBERS: Toyota Camry drivers have combined for nine wins (Kyle Busch -- Las Vegas, Bristol-1, Richmond and Bristol-2; Denny Hamlin -- Pocono-2 and Richmond-2; David Reutimann -- Charlotte; Joey Logano -- New Hampshire; and Brian Vickers -- Michigan-2), 34 top-fives and 62 top-10 finishes through 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) races this season After the first two Chase races, Hamlin is sixth in the standings, 108 points behind leader Mark Martin Vickers is 151 points behind the leader in 10th-place Although no Camry driver has won a NSCS race at Kansas, Busch does have a 2008 NSCS victory at the track's sister facility -- Chicagoland Speedway.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Is the communication between you and your race team the best it's ever been? "Me and Mike (Ford, crew chief) -- the way we're communicating is definitely really, really good. He's starting to figure out the kind of feel that I like in a race car. I think our communication is better, and I think every little aspect of our car has been getting better over the course of the year. Our pit crew has been getting a little bit better. We have improved in a lot of different areas that I felt like we needed to improve on. We were always competitive before. We would contend for a win, maybe one out of every two or three races. Now, I think it's every week because we're starting to get in a rhythm. Obviously, confidence is up through the entire race team."
Are you still in contention for the championship? "Even with what we felt was a disappointing run at Dover last weekend, we know we aren't out of it at all. With every one of the Chasers running so well, we know we need a solid race at Kansas to keep pace with the field, but we also feel like we are up to that challenge. It doesn't change our approach now that we are little further back than we wanted to be coming to Kansas. Based on how we've run recently at these intermediate tracks -- tracks where we've had our biggest improvement since the start of the season -- I think we'll be really competitive here and that gives us confidence to go out and have a good race. We are bringing back a car that is light and has a really good aero package, so I am excited to put it on track and see what we can do. There is a lot of racing left to do."
How fine is the line between speeding on pit road and having the quickest pit stop? "It's a tough balance. Now that we have electronic timing, it's even harder. There's no wiggle room. When I first got in the sport, before we had the digital scoring down pit road, you didn't get busted for 50.087 miles per hour. NASCAR gave us digital scoring and now we're complaining and we're getting caught for speeding at a half of a mile an hour over the speed limit. I think us going down pit road is very similar to those guys on a pit stop. A 12.8-second pit stop would be awesome, but a 13-second stop would do. If a 12.8 means you're going to knock a lug off, or you're going to make a mistake and we're going to have to come back in and fix it, or lose a lap -- there's a lot of consequences that take place. It's a fine balance because you don't want to give up anything on pit road, but at the same time, you've got to understand risk versus reward."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How will you be prepared if the Kansas event comes down to fuel mileage race? "It's probably just a matter of either being in a position to gamble more times than not, and we certainly are in that position the rest of the season. When you're trying to conserve fuel, it is pretty much all on luck. You try to roll out of the gas early and be smooth getting back to it. You will probably save a drop here or there, but nothing that is going to make a big difference. I think four times in my career I've tried, but I didn't make it on three of them. It depends on the scenario. If you're short by three laps with 60 laps to go and you go green the rest of the way, if you start saving, you will go for it. But, if you're short five laps, if there is no other way but to stop, you might as well come in early and then go for it."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Do you agree with others when they call Kansas a 'cookie-cutter' track? "I really don't like to hear people categorize the one-and-a-half-mile tracks as 'cookie-cutter' tracks. Those of us who actually race on them don't buy into that common characterization, especially now tha t the track has been weathered. Kansas provides us now with so many options to run. There are several grooves. Kansas truly is a track that has come into its own. You will see lots of passing. We can go all over the place and that's what we like and that's what the fans like, too."
-credit: toyota motorsports