This is the third pole position for a Camry in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) competition. In addition to today's pole by Kyle Busch, Toyota earned two poles in 2007 -- Dave Blaney (No. 22 Caterpillar Camry) qualified first at New Hampshire ...
This is the third pole position for a Camry in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) competition. In addition to today's pole by Kyle Busch, Toyota earned two poles in 2007 -- Dave Blaney (No. 22 Caterpillar Camry) qualified first at New Hampshire (6/29/07) and Michael Waltrip (No. 55 NAPA Camry) was the fastest driver to qualify at Talladega (10/6/07).
This is the most Toyota Camrys -- 10 -- to make a NSCS event. Nine Camrys started the first two NSCS races of 2008. In 2007, the most Camrys to start a NSCS race was six -- which took place six times (Sonoma, Watkins Glen, Pocono-2, California-2, Talladega-2 and Texas-2).
Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Camry) is leading the NSCS standings heading into the third race of the season at Las Vegas. This marks the first time that a Camry has been on top in the NSCS standings. Busch's teammate Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Camry) is third in the NSCS standings.
Five teams will field 11 Camrys in full-time competition in Toyota's second season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) -- Bill Davis Racing (Nos. 22 and 27), Hall of Fame Racing (No. 96), Joe Gibbs Racing (Nos. 11, 18 and 20), Michael Waltrip Racing (Nos. 00, 44 and 55), and Red Bull Racing Team (Nos. 83 and 84).
MIKE SKINNER, No. 27 Bay Boy Mowers Camry, Bill Davis Racing Starting Position: 5th
How was your qualifying run? "I left a lot on the table coming to the flag. We had been loose late-exit really bad all day, and I was concerned with screwing the lap up to the green. So, I probably left a tenth on the table right there. It didn't slip and it got down there. I might have over-drove it a little bit on the other end. You're in a real unique situation here -- you can't go for it, but you got to go for it. You're damned if you go for it and damned if you don't in this deal. I don't like to be conservative in qualifying and it's funny because I had to be conservative and go for it all at the same time. It's kind of a strange happening there."
How do you balance being conservative vs. going for it? "Obviously, you do what we just did. We're struggling with our COT (new NASCAR chassis) cars at Bill Davis Racing. We need some time to go test. Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) and I need to spend some time together. I think Johnny (Benson) is going to run Atlanta (in this car). We're going to try to learn stuff Sunday to help Johnny and Dave Blaney's efforts. The main effort with this team is Dave and the Caterpillar car."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 14th
How was your qualifying lap? "Scary -- we were just real loose. We kind of danced back and forth between being tight and being loose. On the first lap, the thing took up on the race track in (turns) one and two and we knew we were in trouble. We decided to settle in and be real easy with it the second lap. Thank the Lord, it wasn't pretty but it got us in. That's all that matters."
What do you think about this 'gp-or-go-home' qualifying format? "You're not going to make it any less intense or dramatic, or anything like that. At least everybody is running at the same time and the conditions are the same and it's as fair as you can make the situation. I heard a couple of the other guys that are in the top-35 didn't like it because it gave us more opportunity. I'd say I'll switch with those guys at anytime. It's just one of those deals for the top-35 rule. It's not fair to everybody, but at least we are all kind of on equal ground. If a couple of us go out early and a couple go out late, obviously the guys that go out later on a race track like this pick up time. You could have had a very good car in practice and miss the show. That's kind of how things go. At least they have taken that element out of it."
DALE JARRETT, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 16th
Was your qualifying run what you expected? "We struggled most of the day in trying to find the speed we needed. Through all the runs we went back and kind of looked at the things we needed, we talked to our teammates about the things they had done and we were able to come up with a good game plan. What I was happy with is the car didn't do anything crazy, it let me carry speed into the corner, get back on the gas and drive the car -- and that resulted in a good lap for us."
How did the later qualifying run affect your lap? "Other than really loose -- there's just not as much grip down there as there is in (turns) one and two. Obviously, with all the shade in one and two, you have a lot more grip there. You get grip there and you carry so much speed down the back straight -- that means you're carrying more speed into (turn) three, and then when you get back to the gas you have more speed. So, that leads to when there is not grip there the car is getting free. That's what I fought, but I had just enough to get me through for one lap."
What do you enjoy about the Las Vegas track and the city? "It's been a fun race track to me over the years. We've run well here. We've sat on the pole. To me, it's always been a fun race track. Our finishes don't necessarily show it. It's always been a fun place. I enjoy coming here and the things that there are to do here -- the shows, I enjoy the gambling and the golf courses are great. It's about a perfect place as a race track -- and it offers the opportunity to play blackjack and the opportunity to play great golf courses. There are good places to eat, too. It doesn't get much better."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 22nd
Did you have any problems in qualifying? "I just didn't have any grip. I seemed to be skating a lot."
Was there a certain part of the track that proved difficult? "The turns -- I just don't have a good feeling right now."
What do you do about that? "You rest well tonight knowing you're in (the race) and then you go to work on it. That's what we have to do. We just have to see if we can figure out a way to tune it up."
How different is it here now from a year ago? "I'm proud of my team. There are a lot of smiles. A year ago it was quite the opposite. It just means the world to me to see Dale (Jarrett) smiling. I told him: 'We just needed to get off to a start like this a year ago and maybe we could have made it a lot more fun for everybody.' It's a real proud group of men and woman here that just dug in there."
I feel like my success hinges on all three cars, not just me driving, but Dale (Jarrett) driving and David Reutimann) driving. It's a lot to think about. But, when you get in the car you don't think about anything, you just go drive -- and that's the best times."
TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 25th
How was your qualifying run? "We were a little too loose back to the gas. We'll work on it tomorrow and get it ready for Sunday."
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing Starting Position: 26th
Were you pleased with your qualifying lap? "The qualifying lap wasn't bad. We made a pretty good gain in feel from practice. Everybody is picking up speed, and we did too. It just felt better and drove better, and I actually wasn't confident enough to drive it hard enough I feel right now. We made a gain. I really wasn't looking for much more than that after struggling in practice. The important thing is Sunday, so we'll keep trying to make gains tomorrow."
Did you have any trouble in turn four, where people where having trouble earlier today? "It's slippery everywhere. Right now, turn four is the hottest. It has the most sun on it, it seems like -- so it's going to be the slickest. These cars are hard. They're hard to drive. They are slip-sliding around. If your balance is not right, you're struggling. It's all about getting the car good. Hopefully, we are getting closer."
Did the Las Vegas test help you with this weekend? "Everyone got to test and everyone got the same amount of time. We weren't really happy with our Vegas test. We didn't really come back with the same car or the same anything, but we felt like we learned a little bit. Even if it's good or bad, we still learned. We're gaining from the test to now. It's getting better."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 27th
How did your car handle during qualifying? "We chased our handling from the start of practice today so that qualifying lap didn't really surprise me all that much. We started the day really loose in practice but gradually tightened it up throughout the practice session. We put a good time on the board in practice but by the time we went out for qualifying, the track had changed enough to throw our balance off again. The track really came in this afternoon and I think that bodes well for the race. We have some work to do but we'll have this No. 11 FedEx Kinko's Camry in good shape for Sunday."
J.J. YELEY, No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry, Hall of Fame Racing Starting Position: 30th
How was your car handling during qualifying? "It was an improvement from what we had earlier in practice. We just were a little bit too free, unfortunately. With the speed you carry at this race track, I think you're faster being a little on the tight side than being on the free side. I didn't get back on the throttle like I needed to, to carry speed. And picking up the throttle a car length early is good for a tenth and we needed two. I'm a little disappointed, though I know we shouldn't be because we picked up about three-and-a- half tenths from where we practiced, but I feel like we have a better car than where we're going to end up."
What's your strategy going to be for Sunday's race? "I've been saying all along that qualifying is going to be really important because it's going to be hard to pass. Once you get back in the pack, aerodynamics are going to be huge and there's going to be a lot of down force. I've spent a lot of time practicing the second groove, and I'm sure at some point the third groove will open up. I think the guy that can hold the bottom the best in a pack is going to be the fast guy."
How is your car today? "It was really all the car had. The guys did a good job. We unloaded probably better than we ended in qualifying trim at least. We were pretty good at the start of practice and there towards the end of practice we lost the car. The track kind of slowed down a little bit, but we completely lost it and had to come back on some of our changes. We were still a little bit too tight there with the sun down."
What do you think about this 'go-or-go-home' qualifying format? "I think it's definitely better than it was. It's almost more intense at times because you have no judge as to where you need to be. There are no cars that go out early to give you a reference point in your group as to what you need to run. It's more stressful and more intense, but I think it's the right thing to do. It's the only fair thing to do."
-credit: toyota motorsports