Martinsville: Toyota teams race quotes, notes

Denny Hamlin earned the second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) win for Toyota in today's race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. The Chesterfield, Virginia-native also earned his career-first win at the half- mile short track. Toyota Camrys led...

Denny Hamlin earned the second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) win for Toyota in today's race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. The Chesterfield, Virginia-native also earned his career-first win at the half- mile short track. Toyota Camrys led 89 laps in today's race at Martinsville with race-winner, Hamlin leading 82 of 500 laps. Other Camrys drivers taking turns up front today included David Reutimann (three laps) and Dave Blaney (four laps). In addition to Hamlin's win, Tony Stewart (fifth) also earned a top-five finish today. Other Toyota drivers in the field included Brian Vickers (23rd), Michael McDowell (26th), J.J. Yeley (27th), Mike Skinner (31st), Michael Waltrip (35th), Ken Schrader (37th), Kyle Busch (38th), Reutimann (39th) and Blaney (43rd). Camry drivers unofficially in the top-20 in the NSCS standings include Busch (fifth), Stewart (sixth), Hamlin (eighth) and Vickers (18th).


DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 1st

Can you talk about your win? "Finally! The curse is over I hope. We had such bad luck over these last two weeks. It finally feels good to come here and get a win in front of the hometown fans. I can't wait -- this is a sign of things to come, I believe."

Is this the biggest win of your career? "Without a doubt and to see all my fans here wearing my gear in the stands -- that means a lot to me. A lot of these people traveled from my home town to come watch me race here. For these fans for sticking it out -- it's amazing to have the support that we have from these race fans. They are the reason that we're here -- to weather through it one way or another. This whole FedEx team did a great job getting me off pit road when it counted. We just got it all together finally."

Can you talk about the last pit stop that helped put you out front? "We didn't take tires there so those guys were on newer tires than what we were so we decided to just take fuel and called the tires off right at the last minute. Our car was good on the long run and that's what counted."

What happened early in the race that put you behind? "A dumb driver mistake pitting when we were leading right there -- I thought more guys were going to pit behind me, but we motored back to the front. We didn't do it with any help from cautions or anything like that -- just bided our time. We made some great adjustments on the car -- this was definitely not a race-winning car when we started this race, but Mike Ford (crew chief) did a great job adjusting on it and everyone on this team for not giving up -- finally back in victory lane."

How emotional is this win for you here at Martinsville? "It's very emotional -- you don't come here that often and have opportunities to win races and I felt like we've been very close here in the past. We've run second and third and just not had the car to win at the end. We timed it perfectly -- we got to the front when it counted and made the right adjustments to the car. Everyone did a great job adjusting the car and just had some breaks go our way there at the end."

What role did the weather play in the race for you today? "It was good from our standpoint -- it wasn't very hot in there. We had some long runs and had some short runs so it was pretty easy from our perspective, but you have to give props to all the fans for sticking around and watching this race."

What role did the weather play in the race for you today? "It was good from our standpoint -- it wasn't very hot in there. We had some long runs and had some short runs so it was pretty easy from our perspective, but you have to give props to all the fans for sticking around and watching this race."

Were you worried about Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton catching you at the end? "I thought we were too far ahead and I really started slowing down and making sure I was hitting my lines there at the end. We had really been hard on the tires to try to hold off the 31 (Jeff Burton) when he came on the charge. I just took my time and tried to do everything I could so that if he made a run on me I would have a little left. I was just watching in that mirror and made sure that I kept a safe distance."

How slick were your tires at the end of the race? "It was very slick and we didn't hardly have anything left. I'm sure our tires are worn down to the cords, but that's what we love as race drivers -- to have a tire that wears out. This one definitely did and we have to thank Goodyear for coming with such a great tire because we want to run fast for a couple laps and then let the tire drop off. Then we can start slipping and sliding because that's when we can make passes -- we could do that today."

Where will you put the clock? "I don't have a place, but I'll probably put it back home in Virginia -- that's where it belongs. Probably in the house I grew up in. I remember sitting there many times wondering if I would ever get one. Now that I have one, I will be putting it there."

Did you have any run-ins with any of the older drivers as you learn how to fill that role, and how do you learn how to have respect and still show well for your boss out there at the same time? "Well, it's a balancing act. I mean you want to be aggressive at times, but it just seems like getting away with being aggressive around some guys a little bit more than others. But you definitely try to set an example for some of the rookies that are coming in of how to race. I feel like I've done a good job of trying to stay out of trouble, avoiding, you know, contact with other drivers throughout my career. Other than that one deal with Kyle (Busch). Other than that, it's been pretty easy. Everyone's pretty much gave a lot of room to each other. Kind of went through a segment there in the race where, you know, everyone was kind of running into each other and it kind of put a damper on us. But seemed like our car really performed in the long run, and, you know, that's where we beat those guys."

How has the start of your season been with being disciplined and having to learn humility? "It's been difficult. I mean, it's hard to be patient. When you get so close to winning so many races and something bad happens or, you know, things just don't work out in your favor at the end and you end up losing a win, it's tough to maintain confidence. It's tough -- your self-esteem starts going down. It takes its toll on you -- last week was just like how many times do we have to go through this. Because the previous week in Atlanta I felt like, you know, as we got to second behind Kyle (Busch) we had power steering issues. So I felt like we had a chance to probably win three in a row here, but just the first two races just had a lot of problems. A lot of thanks go the guy at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) to help support us at Joe Gibbs Racing to try to get our issues worked out. They don't have to - - those are issues within our race team that we had. For them to kind of take a lead role and say that they would do whatever it took to help us fix the problems -- that goes a long way. And that is what you look for in a manufacturer from those guys. And I couldn't be prouder to be with them."

Do you go into Texas now with enough momentum that you can quit worrying about winning and how do you think that's going to carry going forward? "You definitely start to have doubts. When things don't go your way and you hear it from the veterans that have been around the sport for 10, 20 years, if you just keep having fast race cars eventually it's all going to turn around. This bad luck's been happening seems like for over a year. When the Car of Tomorrow first came out at the beginning of last year, we had a position to win five or six races easily and just things never worked out for us."

There were a lot of people in this race who have very little experience on a track like this. How did they do? "I thought everyone did a pretty good job for the most part, especially the new guys. The open-wheel guys, I felt like they did a great job coming here and being respectful of the leaders at times. It's just really tough to have the lap cars on the inside line here. It's very tough. I would almost vote to have, somewhere like Bristol and those tracks, the lap cars be put to the outside because it's much easier. It causes more wrecks -- the inside line is definitely preferred on the fastest groove. Those guys are on the inside line because they're not as fast as the leaders. So then you have kind of a conflict of positioning when you have slower cars in the faster groove. I think they did a good job of holding their lines and I really had no issues with them. I've watched them with other guys and it seemed like they were very respectful of the track position and knowing where they were on the racetrack -- I definitely applaud them for that."

Why did you race with your visor up today? "I couldn't see much out of my windshield anyway because of the mist and I had a darker shield on. On the shorter tracks for some reason where it's very, very line sensitive I like to be focused. You have too many layers of windshield in between and things start to get disoriented. So I feel like if I have a clear shot of knowing where I'm going to have a better chance of hitting my marks. Just seems like on these short tracks I run with my visor up. Probably not the safest thing -- it works."


TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 5th

What happened in your pit stop sequence today? "I screwed us today. I pitted and took a gamble when we had 40 laps on tires. I thought everybody would come in, but if they didn't I thought we might get a run and catch them. It didn't work out. I ended up losing 11 spots, I think, so it was a bad decision on my part. I'm proud of these guys. I'm proud of Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) and everybody on my team. They did a good job of staying with it all day, but we never got it right."

How did your car handle today? "I was tight in the center. The car really got up off the corner good. It looked like if it was good getting to the center then we could get underneath guys and we were alright. I went on the outside of Casey Mears and went by him, but Junior (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) raced me hard there at the end. It's fun being around that group of guys up in the top-five because you trust them. You race with them every week. That is what makes the races fun -- when you get around guys like that because you know you can race hard."


BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finished: 23rd

What happened that took you out of the top-10 late in the race? "We were really fast all day today and were hoping for a top-10 so we could gain the points we lost in Bristol. We were second after the last pit stop when we gambled and took fuel only because we were banking on the rain coming in early. But we ran out of gas with only a couple laps to go and had to come to pit road under green. It's just really disappointing because I know we had a top-20 finish for the second-straight race and had something take us out of the running at the end."


MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finished: 26th

What happened at the end of the race with Jeff Burton? "We're all racing for spots and the 00 Aaron's Dream Machine was really good. I was trying to gain a few spots and we're trying to keep the car in the top-35. The 11 (Denny Hamlin) got by and we were able to hang with him for four or five laps and once the 31 (Jeff Burton) put a nose underneath, I let him go. I'm sorry if I held him up -- it wasn't the intention, but I was racing the 28 (Travis Kvapil) and the 16 (Greg Biffle) at the time. We're trying to keep this thing in the top-35 and that's real important to Aaron's and to Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota. I just want to thank all the guys - they gave me a great car. I made a few mistakes out there today, I'm sure, but by no means was I trying to hold the 31 (Burton) up."

What was your first Cup start like here at Martinsville? "It was great and it was exactly what we needed to do is run laps. We were racing hard there at the end with the 28 and the leaders were coming for sure. It was a tough situation and I was trying to keep the car towards the front and gain as many points as we could. I want to thank David Reutimann for getting this car in, which allowed me to make this race and without the Aaron's Dream Machine guys I wouldn't have been able to it. It was a good run for us -- there at the end we got spun and we were in the way of the leader. They can't be too mad, but at the same time we're racing hard for spots too. I'm not upset about it, but next time maybe I need to give him more room."

Did you learn a lot about the 'give-and-take' today? "There wasn't a whole lot of give in there -- there was a lot more take. Especially for me being the new guy out there -- it's just one of those things where I have to go out there and earn their respect. I think we did a good job today -- we ran all the laps, almost finished on the lead lap right until the end."


MIKE SKINNER, No. 84 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finished: 31st

What did you struggle with throughout the race today? "We really struggled all day. We had a great test, but when we left the test I knew we were off a little. I felt like we could have qualified a little better. It's a work in progress and I haven't driven these cars all that much. I'm not going to make excuses because we should have run better. We're really struggling with the bump-stop deal. When the pace slowed down enough to stay off that bump-stop, we were as good as anybody and we were just two or three laps down so it didn't make any sense to race anybody -- I just tried to stay out of the way of the leaders. I think we were only racing one guy so we just tried to stay in front of him."


DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing Finished: 43rd

What happened that took you out of the race? "We looked like we could finish in the teens and thought it might have been a pretty good points day for us. Something went through the radiator I guess and ran all the water out of it and killed us. I just wish it could have rained a little earlier."

-credit: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Ken Schrader , Greg Biffle , Casey Mears , Michael McDowell , J.J. Yeley , David Reutimann , Brian Vickers , Denny Hamlin , Dave Blaney , Kyle Busch , Travis Kvapil
Teams Red Bull Racing , Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing , Bill Davis Racing , Toyota Racing