ROOTS AT RICHMOND: This weekend, the Toyota Camry will make its fourth trip to Richmond International Raceway for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) event. In the first trip to the three-quarter mile race track this season, 10 Toyota Camrys...
ROOTS AT RICHMOND: This weekend, the Toyota Camry will make its fourth trip to Richmond International Raceway for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) event. In the first trip to the three-quarter mile race track this season, 10 Toyota Camrys competed in the NSCS race with Kyle Busch (second) and Tony Stewart (fourth) earning top-five finishes. Other Camrys in the field included Dave Blaney (18th), David Reutimann (22nd), Denny Hamlin (24th), Brian Vickers (28th), J.J. Yeley (34th), Michael Waltrip (37th), AJ Allmendinger (39th) and Michael McDowell (40th).
CALIFORNIA CAMRYS: The NSCS headed west for the Labor Day race weekend at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California. Five Toyota Camrys earned top-15 finishes with Hamlin recording the top Toyota finish of third-place. Other Camry drivers in the top-15 included Busch (seventh), Reutimann (ninth), Vickers (12th) and Allmendinger (14th). Reutimann's ninth-place result marked his career-best NSCS finish, and Allmendinger earned his career-best NSCS starting position (second) at the two-mile speedway. Other Camrys in the field included Stewart (22nd), Blaney (29th), Waltrip (33rd), Mike Skinner (35th) and Ken Schrader (41st).
PLACE IN THE CHASE: This weekend's race is the final event to determine the 12 NSCS drivers who will compete for the 2008 championship. Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 18 M&M's Camry, has already secured the top spot in the standings when the 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' begins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 14). Other Camry drivers looking to secure their place in the 'Chase' this weekend include Stewart (eighth) and Hamlin (11th).
KYLE'S GOAL: Busch will enter the 'Chase' with 80 bonus points and the top spot in the standings, but the 23-year-old driver is focused on one goal for his No. 18 JGR Camry. "You'd love to have a championship, of course, and that would be the ultimate goal, but it's been a good year," said Busch, who has eight NSCS wins this season. "We've had a lot of excellent success. If it comes down to something out of our (control), then it wasn't meant to be. All we can do is hope for the best and keep working as hard as we can."
ADDINGTON'S ACCOMPLISHMENT: Steve Addington, crew chief for Busch's No. 18 Camry will serve as a crew chief in the 'Chase' for the first time in his career, and it will also be the first 'Chase' appearance for the No. 18 JGR entry. "It's an awesome feeling, but it's more of an awesome feeling for the guys who have been with the 18 car for the past three or four years," says Addington. "To get in there and make our first 'Chase' and to have a chance with Kyle (Busch) driving the car. We know we have a shot at the championship, so it makes all the guys on this ra ce team feel really good."
CREW CHIEF COMRADERY: "It will be the same as always," says Addington, about communicating with his fellow JGR crew chiefs during the 'Chase' -- Mike Ford (No. 11) and Greg Zipadelli (No. 20). "We lean on each other every single week and we'll continue to do that. I'll ask Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) and Mike (Ford) about preparation and if they change anything going into the 'Chase.' My opinion of that deal is we need to keep doing what got us here and just focus on making our cars better every week."
TONY'S TAKE: "I feel great about the effort that's being put forth," says Stewart, who is currently eighth in NSCS point standings. "I'm proud of my team, I'm proud of Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief), and I'm proud of our guys and how hard they are digging. But, we just haven't found that one thing or two that we need right now. The great thing about this organization is that these guys won't quit. You keep doing the same things that we've always done for 10 years that's won us 32 races and two championships."
LOGANO'S LEAP: Joey Logano will make his first career NSCS start in Saturday night's race at Richmond. The 18-year- old will drive the JGR No. 02 Home Depot Camry with Wally Brown serving as his crew chief. Logano is scheduled to compete in five additional NSCS events this season driving the No. 96 Camry for Hall of Fame Racing -- New Hampshire (Sept. 14), Kansas (Sept. 28), Charlotte (Oct. 11), Martinsville (Oct. 18) and Texas (Nov. 2).
JOEY'S JUMP: "I think I'm going to approach it (Richmond) the same way I did Dover (first career Nationwide Series start)," says Logano "Personally, I don't think it's as big of a jump as it was to go from the Camping World Series to the Nationwide Series as it is from the Nationwide Series to the Cup Series because you're already racing against a lot of Cup guys. We already race at tracks like this and I've done a lot of Cup testing. I feel more comfortable doing this than I did at Dover. You have to focus on your own race and not worry about what everybody else is doing."
SUPPORTIVE STEWART: "I'm proud of Joey (Logano)," says Stewart, about Logano taking over the steering wheel of the No. 20 Home Depot Camry in 2009. "I really like him. I think his record in the last couple of years speaks for itself. I don't think you could ask for a better guy to replace me. I think he's the perfect guy. He's in the perfect situation right now, he's a good kid, he's got a great family and he's going to do things right. I'm proud of who they got and I'm very supportive and behind him 100 percent."
HAMLIN HOMECOMING: In Richmond, Hamlin will enjoy a weekend with family and friends as the NSCS heads to Virginia. The Chesterfield, Va.-native earned his first Cup series win in his home state earlier this year at the short track in Martinsville (March 30). Hamlin earned the pole at Richmond earlier this year and led 381 of the 410-lap race before a late race flat tire ended the chance of a NSCS win in front of his hometown fans.
DETERMINED DENNY: "I don't think you can go out there and do anything different -- especially with it being my hometown," says Hamlin, talking about his plan for this weekend's race. "I'm going to do my best to win the race any way. I'm not going to risk going for a race win, I'm going to make sure I'm definitely in the Chase. All I'm looking for at Richmond is a top-five or top-10 and we should be fine. I just have to make sure we don't make any mistakes."
-credit: toyota motorsports