Toyota Motorsports press release
KEVIN CONWAY, No. 97 Extenze Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Starting Position: 20th
How was your qualifying lap? “We were real happy with the lap that we got for our Extenze Toyota Camry. For a small team like NEMCO Motorsports to come out and put an effort out against the mega teams -- for a small handful of guys, it’s a really solid lap for us and we’re excited about tomorrow. It will give us a good starting spot and locks us into the show."
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Scott Products Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Starting Position: 21st
How was your qualifying lap? “It’s kind of one of these things at Daytona and Talladega -- it’s what these guys do to it to make the car go fast. I feel like what they did in preparation and getting it to this point was obviously the key and that made it be faster than some other guys. The race is a whole different strategy and a whole different thing, but hopefully it will be good."
How do you think the rule changes will affect the racing? “I don’t know -- at least we have cool weather this weekend so it probably won’t make that much of a difference. I think that as the race evolve and NASCAR makes a change, the teams are really smart and they always come up with a way to get better when they are presented with an issue like water pressure. It’s going to be hard to say because in a pack of 40 tomorrow will be different than what we practiced yesterday."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 15 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 23rd
How did your car feel in qualifying? “It’s good. I can tell it’s got great power -- it never really runs out of power, which when you qualify at 170-something and race at 200 (miles per hour), you better not run out of power at 170 or something or you’re going to be in trouble when they throw the green because of the increase in speed. You can really feel the engine wanting to keep going and it’s a great feeling. Looking forward to tomorrow."
What does it mean to run the special paint scheme this weekend? “It’s just an honor to say congratulations to my brother and it’s an honor to have shared some of the memories that we have together. I’ve never taken anything for granted. I’ve always just been a really thankful person. He (Darrell Waltrip) is the reason why I got to race cars. Maybe I would have thought of it on my own -- I don’t know, but ever since I’ve been on this earth he’s been racing a car, so when I was born he was 16 and that meant he was out and on. I’ve admired him. I looked up to him. I respected him and I always wanted to be like him. The cool thing was that some 40 years later he never has let me down and he’s always been that guy that I wanted to be like. It’s just fun to say thank you."
How was your car in qualifying? “It seemed alright. That was the first time we made a lap by ourselves. It feels so slow on this big of a race track. You just kind of go around. But I think that was a pretty good lap for a Toyota to this point. I think we are one of the better ones as far as just single lap speed. Feels good to have a good car. We were really good in the draft yesterday. I look forward to that tomorrow."
What do you think about before the race Sunday? “Just how to make sure you do the best you can in keeping the cars hooked together. Just all the little things you learn throughout the year doing this type of racing. Just trying to do it right and not make mistakes or not put yourself in a bad spot to the best of your ability."
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Starting Position: 27th
How do you feel about competing at Talladega? “I’ve got to thank all the guys on this NEMCO Motorsports Toyota Racing crew. This is the same car that we ran at Daytona -- we started last in Daytona, drove up and took the lead, went back, came back to the front and on that last green-whitecheckered, we got in a big sandwich there. Basically, we have a new body on our car. We haven’t been to the wind tunnel. Just tried to put it back like it was and we’re off a little bit from where it was, but we’ve had to work really hard and a lot of late nights getting this thing done. It’s fun coming here to Talladega. It’s a special place and I’ve got a lot of poles here. We just need some backing. If we can get some funding, we can get out here and compete with these guys. The way the plate rules are, I think it’s equal for anybody. You never know who is going to win and it’s like a chess match. Whoever can be in the right spot at the end is going to have a shot at winning. We’re doing all we can do."
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP Racing, LLC Toyota Camry, HP Racing Starting Position: 29th
How was your qualifying lap? “It was fine. It was just qualifying at Talladega and you just hold it wide open. Doing 200 miles-per-hour is always fun, but it was a decent lap. We were hoping to do better, but I think the wind has picked up a lot and I think that hurt us a lot."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 31st
How was your qualifying lap? “They restrict us down so slow and we have such a big blade on the back of these cars slowing us down and such a small restrictor plate that you do everything you can to just keep wheel out of the car, make sure you drive a straight line, use all the race track as possible on that first lap to try to gain speed and that’s all you can do. We’re running such a slow speed that there’s not much to it."
Would you be in favor of larger restrictor plates? “We need to go a long way. I just feel like if you opened it up a little bit to where we could run 185 (miles per hour) by ourselves or somewhere in that range -- you’re not going to be able to use the two-car draft. Then the peak speed won’t be as high because we won’t be in a pack. I’m in favor of opening them up. Make handling be more of a factor and get away from the two-car draft."
Who will be your drafting partner on Sunday? “We’ve worked with the 39 (Ryan Newman) for the last three years or so on superspeedways and even before this pairing up started, we were always working together. It’s a good combination. It’s interesting that he’s got a faster car than what we have, but he’s not as fast pushing as what I am pushing him. There’s just something to that and we’ve scientifically figured it out."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 34th
How does the back-up car compare to your primary car? “The back-up car is just as good. It didn’t feel much different at all when we got out there. The first couple laps when we got out there, we got hooked up with Joey (Logano) there and he pushed at the exact same speed and got pushed at the exact same speed as the other car. The fast time in the other car came from a pack of cars where we sucked up on them and got a good run with them. Overall, we feel comfortable with this M&M’s Camry and it should be good for tomorrow. We will get teamed up with Joey and see how our day unfolds."
Do you think about qualifying near Joey Logano so you can get hooked up early? “Not really -- not at all. If Joey (Logano) ends up qualifying 12th and we end up 35th, it doesn’t really change anything. It’s just a matter of running at it the first little while in the race and then getting hooked up eventually. If we get separated a little we’re not worried about it. It’s the end of the race that you don’t want to get separated too much.”
Are Chase contenders more conservative in this race? “Typically, you want to get a good result out of here too. There are 22 or 25 cars that finish on the lead lap here so you certainly don’t want to be at the tail end of that. You still have to run hard and finish with a good top-10. I think if we can come out of here with a top-10, it would be like a win for us. Just to be able to move on."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 35th
Are you pleased to be starting near Kyle Busch? “We’ll be really close. We’ll work our way up there once the race starts. We didn’t expect to qualify very well and it is what it is here. It doesn’t really matter a whole lot where you qualify -- we’ll just work our way up there and position ourselves and see how the race plays out at that point."
What can you do to adjust on the cars during the race? “There is not actually too much that we can do. Maybe when you are pushing, you can try to make the car a little more stable or maybe some little things you can do to maybe get a little more speed in the car. For the most part we are just wide open and mainly just trying to find a way to work with the guy that you are working with and be able to work with Kyle (Busch) better. With the way we’re pushing and trying to find more speed doing different things with the driver in the car more than what you can do with the chassis of the car."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 36th
How was your car in qualifying? “It was okay. It’s really hard to tell anything. You’re out there by yourself and there is nothing exciting going on. I will try to have some meetings and stuff with the guys before the race and figure out some different scenarios that may happen during the course of the day and how we will react to them. Other than that, there is really not much else you can do."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 37th
How do you think the rule changes will impact the race? “Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to be a whole lot different. We could push just as long yesterday as we could in the spring. I think NASCAR changed the rules to keep us from pushing as long, but we’ve worked on our cars since then so it kind of equaled out and I don’t think it will be a whole lot different."
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Starting Position: 42nd
How are you able to move up during the race at Talladega? “Depending on how well you can work with somebody -- that really determines how you can do in the race. Not so much whether you have the fastest car, but who works well together and who can stay connected the most. It will be interesting to see how the first half of the race goes, but at the end if you have the right car then you can definitely get to the front. This is definitely one of those places where in five laps you can be leading this race if you get connected with the right guy. That’s the big thing tomorrow is to stay out of the mess and hopefully be connected to the right person and get to the front."