Phoenix II: Toyota teams race notes, quotes

Camry driver Denny Hamlin earned a third-place finish in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at the one- mile Phoenix International Raceway. This finish marks Hamlin's third top-three result in the last four races. Toyota drivers...

Camry driver Denny Hamlin earned a third-place finish in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at the one- mile Phoenix International Raceway.

This finish marks Hamlin's third top-three result in the last four races.

Toyota drivers David Reutimann (10th), Marcos Ambrose (11th), and Kyle Busch (12th) also scored top-15 finishes.

Other Camry drivers in the field included Joey Logano (21st), Robby Gordon (22nd), Max Papis (32nd), Scott Speed (33rd), Michael Waltrip (36th), Brian Vickers (38th), Joe Nemechek (40th), Michael McDowell (41st) and Dave Blaney (42nd).

Following Phoenix, Hamlin sits eighth in the unofficial NSCS Chase point standings and Vickers is 12th.

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DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd

How was your race? "We had a good day. You know, we threw a lot of different things at the car this morning, figuring that we were going to be a fifth- to 10-place car by the practice sheets. We have a new car here, ran a setup that we never really ran before. We finished where we usually do at this race track. No matter what you throw in the car, I'm the best of the worst or the worst of the best, one of the two."

What were the last 40 laps of the race like for you? "Track position meant so much here. You got to try to push when you can and my pit crew did an awesome job closing the gap on that last pit stop. I got within a car length of him (Jimmie Johnson) but I just used myself up getting there and the 31 (Jeff Burton) came on strong there. Overall it was a great day for us."

Did the sun on the front stretch make racing difficult? "It got actually more difficult it seemed like the last 20 laps. You kind of struggle to hang on to your focus right there. It's just a tough transition from that light to dark. Luckily we were strung out, if it had been a restart at the end we probably would have seen some fireworks there."

Is there something to this string of top-five finishes? "We're running good every race. This is a good finish for us and what we needed, obviously. We are trying to crawl back up in the points just as high as we can. Today was a good step for us. We wanted to get back to the top five in points -- I highly doubt that's going to happen, but you never know, we're making steps."

Will next season be your year? "Performance-wise, I feel like we could have had a shot at them this year. The 48 (Jimmie Johnson) is the standard. They can win races a little bit easier than what everyone else can. Until everyone else steps up to the plate, they deserve to be champions."

Did you think Jimmie Johnson had something to prove today after what he experienced in Texas? "Yeah, I mean, anytime that Jimmie is down is not usually because of performance, it's usually because of an incident like you had last week. There was no doubt in my mind they were going to come this week and make a statement. Obviously leading all the laps pretty much and winning the race sends a statement out there that he is the best, that they're not going to be denied this year. The only thing that was going to keep him from winning the championship this year was bad luck. Obviously, they had a big enough gap where they could afford that one bad luck that they had last week."

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DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 10th

Are you happy with your run today? "It was alright. We got behind in the middle point of the race there and then we got pretty good until we over adjusted and got it bad. There towards the end, we got it decent again. We'll have to try a little different approach next time when we come back. The pit stops were awesome. The guys did a great job today, so I'm really happy with that."

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MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position: 11th

How was your run today? "Not bad. There's nothing worse than finishing 11th because we had a good car and we just burnt the right rear off there on the last run trying to stay in front of Jeff Gordon. It was just a strong day. Our team is learning, we're growing and we're getting better and better. We're going to be a contender next year and that's really exciting for us."

Do you think you've made an impression this year? "Well, we ran great at Texas and we ran well today , so we're really excited for our future. I was worried I pinched the 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) down there to spin him out but I think he spun on his own oil which makes me feel a lot better because I would hate to hurt all of those (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. fans out there. We had a strong day, just not quite enough there at the end. I'm really proud of my guys and really proud of where we're going and I'm excited. I think 2010 is going to be a great year."

Are you already looking forward to 2010? "I am, but I'm also looking forward to the break. You need time to reflect on the season and get your body and your head back in shape for the following year and I need it. I'm getting really tired. My family is back in Australia right now, so I'm excited to see them and hopefully I've only got seven or eight days until I get to see them. I love NASCAR racing -- it's what I live for."

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KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 12th

DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What do you think of your second race as crew chief for this team? "We're not satisfied with finishing 12th, but on the other hand we're excited to start finishing 12th. Joe Gibbs Racing made this (crew chief) change with three (races) to go so I can learn Kyle (Busch) and I can learn the guys to get that communication established. We had some valuable lessons today. We learned a lot, some we learned by failures. Our last stop there, me and the guys didn't communicate clear enough and went the wrong way on our adjustments and we tried to balance the car out. I'm disappointed but we know the big picture is 2010. All those little lessons we can learn right now and getting them out of our way will make us that much stronger next year."

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JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 21st

ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 Jim Beam Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
Finishing Position: 22nd

MAX PAPIS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
Finishing Position: 32nd

SCOTT SPEED, No. 82 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team
Finishing Position: 33rd

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MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 36th

What happened to take you out of the race? "They messed up in the front and got together. I slowed down and didn't have any power steering so I tried to turn right at the last second to miss the 96 (Erik Darnell) and I couldn't turn. A couple guys passed me to get in it. I thought I was last and a couple of them went around me, but the NAPA car was strong. It was a great week for MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) announcing our Toyota extension and Best Western coming back to our team as a sponsor. I'm real proud the effort our team is putting together and disappointed in the result obviously."

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BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team
Finishing Position: 38th

What happened out on the race track? "I don't know. It all got jammed in front of me. I saw the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) get sideways. I don't know if he lost it on his own or somebody got into him. I tried to lift, I tried to get out of it but the whole track was blocked. It was just one big jam up, I got hit from behind and knocked into the crash. I hate it for the Red Bull group. It's kind of been our luck, unfortunately. We had a good car. Track position was very important and we didn't have it today."

Was the track slippery today? "I'm not going to say the track -- I think it's just the track is getting older and its slicker. It's a gradual process. I don't think it's one of those situations where it's abnormally slick this weekend. I think it's getting slicker and slicker every year we come back, every race we come back, especially the fall race -- after a long, hard summer. You know how hot it is here in the summer, how the sun just bakes this track. It's going to be a problem, it's going to continue to be a problem but it's not necessarily a bad thing. A hot, slick track like this makes for a good race, but you have to have the proper tires. It's really hard to pass out there. I like having tires that fall off, but you still want to have a little bit of grip to start with and these tires were still pretty slick to start with."

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JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finishing Position: 40th

MICHAEL McDOWELL, No. 36 WAVE Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Tommy Baldwin Racing
Finishing Position: 41st

DAVE BLANEY, No. 66 Prism Motorsports Toyota Camry, Prism Motorsports
Finishing Position: 42nd

-credit: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Michael Waltrip , Joe Nemechek , Robby Gordon , Max Papis , Jimmie Johnson , Michael McDowell , Marcos Ambrose , Scott Speed , David Reutimann , Brian Vickers , Denny Hamlin , Dave Blaney , Erik Darnell , Joey Logano , Tommy Baldwin , Jim Beam , Kyle Busch
Teams Red Bull Racing , Germain Racing , Tommy Baldwin Racing , Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing , Robby Gordon Motorsports , Prism Motorsports , NEMCO Motorsports