This is the most -- 10 -- Toyota Camrys to start a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) event. Nine Camrys started the first two NSCS races of this season. In 2007, the most Camrys to start a NSCS race was six, which took place six times (Sonoma, ...
This is the most -- 10 -- Toyota Camrys to start a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) event. Nine Camrys started the first two NSCS races of this season. 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).
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin (ninth) and Kyle Busch were the top-finishing Camrys in today's race. Camry drivers have led 217 laps over the first three races of the season -- Daytona (138 laps), California (17 laps) and Las Vegas (62 laps). Las Vegas-native Busch led 56 laps today.
A year ago, Camry drivers led a total of 166 laps across 16 different races. Camry driver Busch (No. 18 M&M's Camry) is second in the NSCS point standings -- 21 points behind leader Carl Edwards -- heading into the fourth race of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch earned the third NSCS pole position for a Camry at Las Vegas. Toyota drivers earned two pole positions in 2007 with Dave Blaney (No. 22 Caterpillar Camry) qualifying first at New Hampshire (6/29/07) and Michael Waltrip (No. 55 NAPA Camry) being the fastest driver to qualify at Talladega (10/6/07).
The best finish for a Camry driver in the Sprint Cup Series is third-place. Stewart ended up third in this year's season-opener at Daytona (2-17-08), and Blaney finished third at Talladega last season (10-7-07). During Toyota's second season of competition, five teams will field 11 full-time Camrys in the 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 the Red Bull Racing Team (Nos. 83 and 84).
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 9th
How was your day today? "It was a tough day. We got our car good towards the quarter part of the race, but we had no track position. We put ourselves up front, but it was on the lap down line. We could not seem to get our car going enough to get those guys for the 'lucky dog.' Finally, when we got it, we tried to make the best of it. It was a good day for the whole FedEx team."
How difficult was it to get your car handling? "It's so tough to get these things tightened up, especially on a smooth race track with a hard tire. I really wish we had a little bit softer tire. Hopefully, next week when we go to Atlanta it will be a little bit grittier, and a lot more fun."
Is this a good way to head into the Phoenix test? "It definitely is. This is a good momentum boost for our team. This is what we need to do -- gain some points."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 11th How was your race? "We started out good and fell a little bit behind with track position. Then we finally had a leak in the left rear tire and had to come in and put four tires on it. We lost all of our track position and couldn't fight back."
How was your race car today? "We couldn't catch a break today with not being able to get our lap back. It was an okay points day, but the bottom line is we still need to improve. We finally got the car to handle better, but it was never consistent. Every time we changed tires it changed the feel of the car. So, overall I am not pleased with the finish, but considering the spin and being a lap down, we'll take the 24th-place finish."
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing Finished: 26th
How did your Camry handle in today's race? "We struggled just as bad today as we did at California. I thought we were better yesterday, but it got slicker and slower today. We just had no front grip at all and we were just slow."
What are you hoping to gain at the Phoenix test? "Hopefully, we can learn something. We've been struggling and we haven't seemed to be able to make any gains. Hopefully, we can find something there."
J.J. YELEY, No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry, Hall of Fame Racing Finished: 27th
How was your day? "It was just a real long day. We just couldn't ever seem to find the speed we needed early. To me, the car was at its best at the end, but by then we'd given up track position and a lap. It didn't seem like there were a lot of guys who were able to make up for a lack of track position out there. It's just a tough day. It's not what we wanted, but it's behind us now. To me, it's good to go right to Phoenix. It's going to make me try to do better, it's going to push the guys the guys harder. It's obvious we're not exactly were we need to be, so we need to make some changes to get there. Hopefully we can figure that out in the next couple of days."
TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 43rd
What happened to make you hit the wall on lap 107? "That's the hardest one I've taken in a long time. It just blew a right front I guess and went straight in. It didn't try to turn or anything -- it was a real tight part of the corner. It hit so hard it's got my lower back sore and made my legs almost feel about half-numb and just tingle until we got to the infield care center. We smacked it yesterday -- I tried to knock the fence down yesterday in the Nationwide race and thought I'd made some ground on it and tried to finish it off, but it shows how good the soft walls are -- they don't go anywhere still."
What was the difference between yesterday's hit (in the Nationwide Series race) and today's hit? "Yesterday, I just hit it (right foot) on the pedals because I hit the left side. It just bruised it. It bounced off it and hit it again today. Today's hit was probably ten times harder than yesterday's -- the way it felt. My legs were tingling like they were about half-numb and my lower back is sore. That's probably from tensing up on the way to hitting the wall. When you see the wreck coming and you know you're not going to miss it -- every muscle in your body tenses up and that makes it worse."
How did the new car handle contact? "These things -- they sit on the splitters, as soon as you blow a tire it sits on the splitters and does just like an Indy Car. It just slides straight. It used to be you could kind of try and turn a little bit. They're not going to do it now."
Will you be able to race in Atlanta next week? "I'll be alright for the test tomorrow in Phoenix. It's going to be a miserable next two days. I was already sore today and my foot was (sore) from the wreck yesterday hitting the pedals. It didn't make it any better today. We'll do what we got to do the next two days."
-credit: toyota motorsports