Camry driver Denny Hamlin earned the first Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) win in Monday's rain-delayed race at Virginia's Martinsville Speedway. The win marks the Chesterfield, Va., native's third win on the half-mile speedway as well as...
Camry driver Denny Hamlin earned the first Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) win in Monday's rain-delayed race at Virginia's Martinsville Speedway.
The win marks the Chesterfield, Va., native's third win on the half-mile speedway as well as Toyota's third Martinsville NSCS victory. Hamlin battled on a green-white-checkered finish to earn the race win after leading 172 (of 508) laps.
Hamlin was followed to the checkered flag by his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Joey Logano (second).
Toyota drivers Martin Truex Jr. (fifth) and Brian Vickers (sixth) also collected top-10 finishes with Truex earning his career-best finish at Martinsville.
Other Camry drivers in the race included Marcos Ambrose (11th), Kyle Busch (22nd), David Reutimann (28th), Scott Speed (33rd), Robby Gordon (34th), Joe Nemechek (39th), Max Papis (40th), Dave Blaney (42nd) and Michael McDowell (43rd).
Five Camry drivers are currently in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS point standings after Martinsville, including Vickers (12th), Logano (13th), Hamlin (15th), Busch (16th), Hamlin (19th) and Truex (20th).
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your thoughts after the finish to the race? "I can't believe it. I thought it was the end for us. That's for all the people that doubt us. We're gonna get this thing before the year's over with. Gotta thank everyone, FedEx. I gotta thank Sprint and all the fans that came back out today. It's amazing to see this crowd. Coca-Cola, Toyota, Wiley-X. What a great job all day long."
Were you worried to see Jeff Gordon stay out on the caution with 10 laps to go? "Wasn't necessarily worried as much about him as all the other 10 guys that stayed out. That's hard to do. I had to bully the way through there towards the end, but everyone was just running in to everyone. I flattened my tire with (Matt) Kenseth going down the backstretch. Somehow made it work."
How much of a gamble was the final pit stop for four tires? "It wasn't much of a gamble. Once we committed to pit road, we had no choice- we had to do it. We decided to take four (tires). We restarted ninth and I knew we were going to have to have a caution to help us. We were able to gain some spots and everyone was sliding everywhere with those old tires. We were just able to come through somehow."
Could you have predicted that you would come from ninth to the win? "There was no way that I could predict that would happen. Every hole just had to open up just right- every car had to be in the right position. We just somehow made it work. It was going to be a shame that the best car wasn't going to win today, but instead it did."
What is the update on your knee surgery? "We have to delay it until Wednesday now. I was actually going to try to do it after the race, but now we have victory lane celebrations so I can't do it. It's a good thing for us. We're going to wait until Wednesday and trust me, when I come back, I'm going to come back strong."
How strong was your race car today? "The first run, we were really able to make some ground up. I knew our car was extremely strong. As soon as the green flag dropped, we were able to make up some positions. Had a pit road thing where the car fell on a jack. I don't know where that put us back. There were a lot of cars in front of us. It was tough back there to make up ground. I told Mike (Ford, crew chief) I felt like we could get back up to the front the old-fashioned way, driving up there, but it was going to take a little bit longer than what I wanted to. Hopefully we were going to be able to do some sort of pit strategy to get that track position back. We just did it the old-fashioned way. We passed the cars back. It was a good day for us. I told Mike during practice on Saturday there was no doubts we were going to win this race. I didn't think it was going to be this hard or that dramatic at the end. Nonetheless, it's a good feeling."
What does it mean for you to win in your home state? "There's more FedEx jackets and hats and shirts in the stands. Believe it or not, we can see that. We see it under caution. You spend a lot of time at this race track under caution. So the race track, the stands are so close to the actual speedway itself, you can look up there and see the guys rooting you on. Somehow it just gives you more motivation, for whatever reason, or determination. It's definitely more gratifying when you're able to do that because you know, my fans in particular, they could pick anybody, and probably guys that are more successful, win more races, but they have my stuff on because they believe in me. When we're able to win, it makes me happy that they're happy."
MIKE FORD, crew chief, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How did the race play out from your perspective? "Today on pit road, like Denny (Hamlin) mentioned, first couple pit stops we had a couple issues, had to fight for track position. Good thing that was early. We were able to shake that off and have some good stops towards the end of the race. Coming down to the end, leading the race here at Martinsville, the last place you want to be when the caution comes out with 10 (laps) to go is the leader because everyone is going to take cuts at you. You wonder if you have enough time to get back. You were thinking about that situation 30 laps prior, watching the weather also. But came right at the point where it's probably the most difficult call on pit road leading the race inside 10 to go, had 65 laps on our tires, new tires were going to be fast, but you don't know what everyone else is going to do."
J.D. GIBBS, president, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does it mean for Joe Gibbs Racing to get a one-two finish today? "It's a big deal for us. Joey (Logano) to come home second, be smooth and consistent, a real testament. For Mike (Ford, 11 crew chief) and Denny (Hamlin), I told Mike for the record, I never doubted him. But in reality I was cussing him up top the pit box. But it was one of those things where they trust each other. Mike and Denny, it is what it is, they make their decisions. They've been doing this long enough as a team, they have a good feel for what the other one needs. I think he gave Denny what he needed. Did a good job of taking it to the front."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How do you feel about your second place finish? "We have to be happy with that finish for the Home Depot Toyota. This is one of my tougher race tracks that I usually never ran good at. To come home second with a one-two finish for Joe Gibbs Racing. I'm pumped up about that. It's a lot more fun when you run up there, I'll tell you that much. That was a good race there at the end. I was in the middle of it and I'm glad one of the Joe Gibbs cars was able to get the win. We weren't the winning car by any means. Denny (Hamlin) definitely was- he deserved to win and he got it. Definitely awesome for all of us to be able to get a good finish. It seems like the last two weeks we kind of got caught up in a couple messes so its cool to come back and get another top-five."
How crazy was the finish to this race? "Towards the end of the race, it was crazy. We knew it was going to be crazy before it went green. Denny (Hamlin) I think was in the outside row, one lane behind me. Knew he'd be coming real hard. He cleared I think it was (Ryan) Newman. He was forcing his way down. I knew his car was better than me -- he could out-brake us. He was able to out-brake us. That was the same lap. I don't know what happened in front of us there, but the two cars washed up. Like I said, I was just right place, right time. I was able to restart on the bottom. That's where you need to be. Just kept filling holes when people were washing up and hitting each other. I was lucky enough not to get hit in the back, just protect the bottom, was able to come out with a good finish."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How wild was the racing coming to the checkered flag? "Usually we're on the wrong end of the deal at the end there. It was a good run for us today. My NAPA Toyota was good all day. We were just solid and ran around the top-10 all day. The guys had awesome pit stops as usual- that helped us a lot. Pat (Tryson, crew chief) did a good job making adjustments on the car and calling the race. At the end we were right where we needed to be. We were in the right position, we had the tires- just one little break there where the 11 (Denny Hamlin) got through the hole and I couldn't quite follow him. Great day for us. It's my best run ever here at Martinsville so I'm real happy with it."
How do you feel about your top-10 finish today? "That was exactly what we needed as a team to get our momentum back. Ryan (Pemberton) made a great call at the end for four tires with three laps to go. It was a gamble that paid off for us. We struggled all race with the drive off. The guys made a bunch of adjustments in the pits to correct the condition. And we battled all day to get our track position back after a few incidents earlier in the race cost us some spots on the track. It was an awesome job all around today."
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
How do you feel about your finish? "For us to finish 11th after all we went through today is huge for the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota team. We got knocked around out there some, which caused us to get spun around and in the end it resulted in us getting pinned a lap down. We were fortunate to be able to get back onto the lead lap and leave here today with the car in one piece. We'll take the top-15 finish and move on. It was a wild and crazy race and we're happy we survived it."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 TUMS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How was your race today? "That was a tough day. We lost a couple laps early and that set us behind, but the TUMS team really battled back and was on our way to a top-15 finish until we lost our brakes with about 60 laps to go. It's just frustrating. We've had some really great cars this season, but unfortunately it just hasn't produced the results we'd like."
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 VIPFanExperience.com/Blake Shelton Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
MAX PAPIS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
DAVE BLANEY, No. 66 Toyota Camry, PRISM Motorsports
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 55 Toyota Camry, PRISM Motorsports
-source: toyota motorsport