Kyle Busch top Toyota driver, takes pole for Phoenix 500

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 1st

How was your qualifying run? "It was good. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) made some really good adjustments there from qualifying practice to now and the car drove exactly like it needed to for those two laps. Did it on the first one, but thought I gave up a little bit in (turns) three and four so I wanted to try for a second one to see if I could get any more speed out of it. Saw a couple guys go faster on lap two. We'll take it and it will be a good starting spot for us. Obviously, getting first pit selection and all that's good for us. The M&M's Camry was awesome all day today. Can't wait for tomorrow. Hopefully, we can get this thing dolled up for race trim and have a good race car come Sunday."

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Getty Images

How much are you expecting this track to change? "Well, it's on its way to getting cooler. So, it's going to be a lot cooler tomorrow, but it's going to be more indicative tomorrow about how we're going to see on Sunday. We'll see how all that transpires or what all happens to the cars tomorrow in practice which will be good. It's kind of cool because here a year ago we qualified 36th -- dead last on speed -- and then this year we're fastest, top of the sheets."

How does it feel to be on the pole? "It's really good for all of us at this No. 18 M&M's racing team. The guys have done a great job. The Camry was fast today. I'm just proud of the effort. We unloaded strong -- we were fast right off the truck and so we were just kind of making some fine-tune adjustments to it. The car ran great right there. We adjusted a little bit from practice to qualifying expecting the track to change some and we hit it right on the money. The car was awesome."

Does the track have grip? "What the problem here is -- is you have a lot of grip, until you have no grip. There's no in-between. Like, you go to Atlanta -- Atlanta's one of the fastest race tracks we run -- there's absolutely no grip there, but you know it so you're just sliding around kind of the whole time guiding the car. But here, with the fresh asphalt and the tires and everything, you've got all the grip in the world until you've got none. Until you slip a tire. So, you can either slip the front or you can slip the rear, but you slip all four (tires) and then you get in big trouble."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 2nd

How was your qualifying lap? "It was good lap -- definitely a good lap for our NAPA Toyota. We had a really good practice today. We had good speed all day long. Obviously, the late draw was something that we knew was going to be big. We were fortunate enough to be able to get that and go out late, put down a good lap. It wasn't good enough, obviously, but nonetheless a good starting spot for Sunday and hopefully we'll be able to turn that into something big."

How has this surface changed? "At the start of practice it was pretty treacherous just because it's been sitting, so it's just tough to know. We go through so much with transition in the race car throughout practice because the track is new and the tires are kind of hard, especially today with it being dirty when we started -- the car changed a lot. But, the car's had a lot of speed in it all day and it's been a lot of fun. I love Phoenix, so I love coming out here. This is a great race track and just hope the groove gets a little bit wider before the race starts."

How important will track position be on Sunday? "Well, starting up front here is important. That's a big deal here. Hopefully, we'll be able to hold onto it. Knock on wood. It's always hard to stand around and wait and hope that it hangs on."

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 3rd

How was your qualifying lap? "We struggled a little bit earlier in practice and kind of worked our way to where our teammates were at and, obviously, it worked out good for us and got us a good starting spot. Qualifying is important here. Pit selection is important. So, we'll have a good start to the weekend."

How was the track surface? "It was treacherous, for sure. It seemed like if you went later it was definitely an advantage to qualifying. But -- just really the track and tire combination -- it's really hard. So, it takes a long time for it to get going."

How many notes from earlier this year can you use for Sunday's race? "Quite a bit -- I think you can use a lot of your notes that you had in spring. I think that they will apply. The race track really hasn't aged that much and we're on the same tires, so I think the guys that ran strong in the spring will continue to run strong here in the fall. You'll have a very thin playbook, but you'll have something to go by."

What has changed about Brad Keselowski's driving style? "You mean it's better now? Yeah, well that's what I'm saying -- he's better. He'll tell you he's better now and, obviously, it's leading to a lot of success. I think he probably thought he could beat him straight up without (wrecking Jimmie Johnson in Texas). I don't think Jimmie (Johnson) did anything to warrant getting wrecked, first of all. I think looking back on the race and watching it, I just thought it was two guys who were really trying to fight hard for a win. I think you would have saw that kind of racing from any of the competitors, regardless of any kind of point situation. I think with those two they know every point is vital and so I think that they're willing to do anything they can because when you look at the swing of points from not cutting into to the lead or extending your lead and going the other way by finishing behind the guy -- especially winning to second -- so I think it may have been a championship moment. For sure, I think that Brad (Keselowski) is one of the best racers out there at this point. Not only from the speed that he has, but the ethics in which he races. He's a great guy to race with. Really to me, there's no resemblance from the Brad before to the Brad now."

MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 10th

How was your qualifying run? "Well, it wasn't our best. The guys did a good job adjusting the car for practice. We had a tough evening to practice. We just didn't get the car where we wanted it, so I thought they did a good job of getting close. Qualifying is always so close that you can't afford to not be on your game and we just weren't able to get everything out of it based on not being quite where we needed to be."

Toyota Motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Jimmie Johnson , Brad Keselowski , Kyle Busch
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing
Article type Qualifying report
Tags busch, gibbs, hamlin, martin, phoenix, toyota, truex