Kyle Busch earned the third win by a Toyota Camry in today's race at Talladega Superspeedway. The win was Busch's second NSCS win of 2008. Busch has earned seven NASCAR wins this season -- two NSCS (Atlanta and Talladega), three NNS ...
Kyle Busch earned the third win by a Toyota Camry in today's race at Talladega Superspeedway. The win was Busch's second NSCS win of 2008. Busch has earned seven NASCAR wins this season -- two NSCS (Atlanta and Talladega), three NNS (Texas, Phoenix and Mexico City) and two NCTS (California and Atlanta).
Toyota Camry drivers Denny Hamlin (third) and Brian Vickers (5th) also earned top-five finishes in the race. Other Toyota drivers in the field included David Reutimann (20th), Michael McDowell (26th), Michael Waltrip (27th), AJ Allmendinger (30th) and Tony Stewart (38th).
Camry drivers have earned 13 top-five finishes and 19 top-10 finishes in 2008. Camry drivers in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS point standings include Busch (second), Hamlin (fourth), Stewart (ninth) and Vickers (16th).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&Ms Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position:
1st How did you pull off the win coming down those final few laps? "First Jeff Gordon and then Juan (Pablo) Montoya -- those guys behind me were pretty awesome in helping push us and we just kept blocking them like we needed to. This M&Ms Toyota -- this thing was strong. It wasn't as strong as we would have liked. I didn't think it was as good as the 20 (Tony Stewart) was today, but this Toyota has enough horsepower in it to power us to the win. I can't say enough about these guys at Joe Gibbs Racing and all of these M&Ms boys. We really want to thank all of these fans here in Talladega as well for being here and supporting NASCAR racing. Glad we were able to bring one home here today."
How happy are you to get a win here after not finishing well here in the past? "I bet my grandma is back at home on the couch just pulling her hair out. Mom's here and I'm sure my dad is jumping for joy, too. It's been so long and I don't think I've ever finished one here without wrecking or without being tore up at least some -- today definitely means a whole bunch. To be able to have our teammates there working with us in the beginning and then there at the end with Juan (Pablo) Montoya and Jeff Gordon -- I owe a lot to those guys."
What was your plan the last couple of laps? "Our plan was just to block as best as we could. If Juan (Pablo Montoya) would've pulled out then Denny (Hamlin) probably would've gone with us -- at least we're hoping he would've went with us in order to give Joe Gibbs a one-two finish. It was all thanks to Jeff Gordon and Juan Montoya there at the end of the race. Those guys were really helping us out a tremendous amount. We got a lap down there at the beginning and were able to come back from that and get our track position back. This Toyota Camry was just awesome. With M&Ms being on board, Interstate Batteries, Pedigree and all these guys -- all these guys back here from Joe Gibbs Racing -- it's just a phenomenal day for us. I had a blast man."
Were you concerned when you got a lap down? "I was a little upset so I probably wasn't saying much on the radio so it looked like I was calm. It all played out. I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to keep ourselves in the lucky dog position and fortunately we were able to do that -- also just having the caution fly at the right time in order to get that back and still have enough time to get back through the field. You never know how cautions are going to fly here. There wasn't anybody tore up so the debris wasn't going to be flying anywhere yet. Fortunately for us we were able to get to Victory Lane today. I'm so proud of these guys. Jeff Dickerson, my spotter up top, he did a tremendous amount keeping us up front there. He was my blocking savor today."
Can you talk about the move that got you back to the front of the field? "(Juan Paulo) Montoya, man he was pushing. He didn't want to get off the back bumper of this thing so that was pretty awesome. I've got to thank him and thank Jeff (Gordon) and those guys -- they really hung with us. I moved up to block them a little bit and was able to keep them behind me and we were able to get through traffic. Without those guys pushing and staying locked to my bumper it wasn't happening."
Can you talk about winning at Talladega? "Good win for us today. Proud of the fact we were able to win with Joe Gibbs Racing and M&M's and Snickers and Home Depot and Interstate, Toyota, all helped support this race team. And for us there in the beginning part of the race, we were running along and trying to come out pit road there and having guys on the inside and behind me so this is my fifth stall and had come back around the next time and get the pit stop done there, and so had to walk a lap. Fortunately we were in the right position at the right time and got the lucky draw and were able to come in from there and get back on the lead lap and come back to the field. About ten to go, things got crazy so really my memory is a little scratchy, but getting through there was problematic -- speaker system -- I was running fourth or fifth and got a bump draft and got a huge line, shot me on the line and got into (Jamie) McMurray there. And I don't know what happened with that scenario and we were able to straighten up and get going, 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) was myself, pushed me all the way to the front. Montoya, gave me a great shock, got us both up to the front two spots and rode up there and stayed together. And then 55 (Michael Waltrip) and 48 (Jimmie Johnson) did the same thing, had a caution come out, and on that restart we shifted the 55 (Michael Waltrip) out and I think (Jeff) Gordon got in behind me somehow, and Jeff was pushing me and we bump-drafted Jimmie (Johnson) out of the way off of turn four, and I got out underneath him and Jeff (Gordon) pushed me past the 48 (Jimmie Johnson), and that was cool and we got the 24 (Jeff Gordon) shut out of line by the 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) again and it was the 18 (Kyle Busch) and 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) there at the end and the 11 (Denny Hamlin) and so that was pretty cool."
What was the difference for you to win today at a track that you have not had a lot of luck? "I'd like to say I'm smarter than I look but that's certainly not the case. You know today was just due to having a great car, Mark (Cronquist) and all those guys at the shop did an awesome job building a great Toyota engine today and in order to power us up through there through the field when we were getting bumped and banged all over the place; but getting a lap down, yeah, that was like typical Talladega there, and I didn't wreck today, so I am ultimately happy about that. Greatly appreciative that I was able to win today because it's just been a struggle here at this place for certainly a couple years, and I don't think I've ever finished one here yet without having some sort of damage. Today we still had damage but it wasn't enough to keep us from victory lane."
Why was the drafting even closer today that it has been in the past? "For the drafting around here we figured that out with the new asphalt when it was laid, when the old cars we could bump draft each other through the corners, the old cars we lined up on in the restrictor plate tracks the high ends were (indiscernible) -- with the bodies on those cars. And with these cars, they are the same way, the rear bumpers are high and front bumpers are low, and so we are able to bump-draft all the way through the corner, built so much speed all the way around this place, and NASCAR doesn't like it. But when you have two guys that know what they are doing and keep their car straight and you don't hit somebody too hard and just sit on them nicely, it really works and you can use it to your advantage really well. Denny (Hamlin) was doing it a lot today and I felt comfortable with it."
Can you talk about the save you made when you made contact with Jamie McMurray? "The save, I mean, I didn't know what was happening. All I remember was I got knocked out of line first to begin with and then looked up in my mirror to see who I had behind me then. And I think it was Juan (Pablo Montoya), a couple car lengths back, and I don't know if (Jamie) McMurray was looking at his car trying to get in front of the 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya), but we made contact and I thought I was going out of the park. I thought I was getting hooked right rear and going great up on the fence and luckily somehow we got off each other and we kept it straight and we were able to continue on and (Juan Pablo) Montoya got behind me and forced up the lead and so that was cool. As far as the package of this car, I think it's just the product of the car. I wouldn't say it's great, but when the cars get side-by-side they get stuck, so it takes a lot more help and a lot more bump-drafting to get through people and to get more racing going on, because I don't know if it's because they punched us a big hole in the air or what, but you know when you pull out on someone, you just stall, like you crept up alongside of them at least get half the length going and at least get somebody behind you to get that length past like the old car. But it's just a product of the way this car is so everybody has to learn what to do and how to race it and how to use it to their advantage."
Do you think a lot of people are envious of your position? "Well, I am fortunate to be hooked up with this bunch, with Joe (Gibbs) and JD (Gibbs) and Steve Addington leading the calls on the box did a great job today as always and luckily we were able to get up in the lap back there. But it's special to have the results so far this year. And the amount of crew chiefs I've worked with this year and over the years, I think just becoming more in tune with everybody and telling them what's in my race car. When we unloaded this weekend and the car was good and wasn't great, and I told (Steve) Addington (crew chief) what I wanted and what we needed to try to work on to make it better and we did it. I think we made it better and wasn't as good as it needed to be and it wasn't as good as the 20 (Tony Stewart), but it was a good enough car that when you put it in the right position today, we were able to win with it."
Were you upset with Denny Hamlin early in the race for bump drafting you a little too hard? "I was a little upset when Denny (Hamlin), we were running one, two, three there and Tony (Stewart) was leading and I was second and Denny (Hamlin) was third and bump-drafting being a little aggressive and knocked me out of the way and went on to get behind Tony (Stewart) and I had to fall back a few spots. Luckily I only fell back to seventh or eighth, but as far as that went Tony (Stewart) and whatever he does, that's between these guys here and Tony (Stewart) and you know, he's had good offers over the years and he's always stayed. So I'm great friends with Tony (Stewart), I'm a great teammate with him and you know I can remain great friends with him if he moves on and I can remain great friends and a teammate with him if he stays here. You know, fortunately for me I'm in a good spot and where I want to be driving the 18 M&M's Toyota and what the driver of the 11 (Denny Hamlin) does or what the driver of the 20 (Tony Stewart)does sometimes out there during the race, sometimes you're not going to be happy with the moves they make but you go on with it, you salvage it and guess what, that's all that matters."
How exciting was this race? "I don't know. I'd have to go back and re-watch it. From where I was sitting there was some times where when I was running in a three-car draft, I was bored as hell and I got over that. I got back on the lucky dog, got back on a lead lap -- it was an exciting race. There was times where it got pretty impatient and guys were making bold moves and bump drafting and it got a little crazy but it all worked out. You know, Denny (Hamlin) could be right but like I said, I haven't seen it from the fans perspective. I've only seen it from where I was sitting."
You didn't seem happy to be here earlier in the week -- why was that? "I wasn't. I wreck every time I come here; so what's there to be excited about except a tore-up race car? But I am now and that's pretty cool. We were able to bring M&M's their first win of the year; the other one was Snickers, to M&M's their first win of the year and bring Toyota another win to the series and here to Talladega, I think that's pretty cool. So now they have won on a mile-and-a-half, a short track with Denny and myself and here at Talladega, so they are doing pretty good."
Did you think things would work out this well, this early in the season? "I hoped that it was going to. I knew that I was getting with a great organization who had been in contention to win championships in all of their years pretty much in racing and with Tony (Stewart) being as good as he is, and with contending for the championships for the past however many years. And with Denny (Hamlin) only being two years in the series, we have only been able to contend and I think with my ability and the cars that these guys have, hopefully it will all work out and the chemistry would be there and it would click and so far it has. That's just been the greatest satisfaction, being able to come over here to Joe Gibbs Racing, it's just been the chemistry has worked, all the guys, they are great to work with, guys on the team, guys in the shop are very cool and everybody is out for one thing and that's to make Joe Gibbs Racing be number one. Right now so far this year, I'd have to say that we are pretty close. The 99 (Carl Edwards) has been great on the mile-and-a-half stuff, and Hendrick (Motorsports) has always had the short track stuff, so we've been right there with them the about a willing it out on the mile-and-a-half stuff and we've been fortunate enough to win one of those so I feel like we're close."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 3rd
Did you have fun out there in today's race? "It was really fun from my standpoint. You know, I had a car that just relatively could do whatever it wanted to do, and whenever I wanted to pull up to somebody's bumper, I would, and you know, when I would push him, I would push him as long as my water gauge would let me or as long as they could hang on to it. That's all you can ask for and to have a car as good as ours, the best car don't always win. You've got to put yourself in position, and we were with 20 to go and just made a bad move there, got shuffled out and got back to 20th, and with all the cautions all we had time to get back to was third and just shows how strong our car was."
Why did this race seem so aggressive? "I think that has a lot to do with the package which we have. We have small restrictor plates, the track has a lot of grip, the tires have good grip, and, you know, the cars were just so savable, you could really push a guy through the corner, and he could even have his rear end lifted up and he still could maintain control. That's why the racing was as tight as it was. Even when the cars were able to make contact, they were able to save it because there was so much excess grip out there."
Why were two cars able to pull away from the entire pack at times today? "A lot of it has to do the with fact when you get bumpers sealed together; it creates a false opening (phonetic) on the car in the back, so it's really like a qualifying run for the car in the back. So you get any kind of break from there and you actually make contact, it's almost suction, especially if you have a radiator fan on; it sucks up even more than what it would normally. It's just kind of something that you learn over the course of time. Yesterday I was able to do the same thing and take a car that was running 24th, whoever was in front of me, pushed them passed the 23 cars out front and it was enough to figure out ways to keep it looked in there."
What would have happened on the last lap if the yellow had not flown? "I probably would have shut him in. Depends if the 18 (Kyle Busch) was going to block him; it definitely was going to push Juan (Pablo Montoya) beside the 18, and if those two bogged each other down enough, I would try to get by and go for the win. If he stayed, I was going to have stay on his bumper. If he moved to block the bumper, then I was going to make a three-wide."
How exciting was this race today? "For sure it's the best race we've had. Daytona was really good, too, just looking back and watching it, it looked really good there at the end and you know, at times, this race kind of had the complexion like it had over the last three races and just kind of single file and everyone is just kind of, you know, taking their time, didn't want to do anything crazy till the end. But I mean, every time you come to super speedway racing, it seems like it's with 25 to go, just really kind of busting loose and it gets kind of crazy. I thought the race was still really good up to that point. There was a lot of exchanges for the lead between myself and the 20 (Tony Stewart) and the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and those guys, and you know, I thought it was a great race, I think this package is really right where it needs to be for a super speedway, so I really commend NASCAR with all of the adjustments they made to this car for super speedway racing."
Was is circumstances that determined your position at the end of the race? "Yeah, definitely circumstances, because ultimately, would I have backlash if I would have pushed Juan into the win? Absolutely, but that's just part of it. He had a teammate up there one time and I'm sure he wasn't going to let -- he wasn't going to push the 18 (Kyle Busch) by him. So I mean, it's just all circumstantial. I think my move probably would have been the same. If it wasn't a teammate, I probably would have pushed Juan out to the outside if the guy stayed on the inside simply because we worked really well to stay together. My car really stayed tucked up on the 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) really good. I was going to go for the win myself if the door opened that last probably 200 yards."
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 5th
Can you talk about how strong your car was today? "Early in the race I made a mistake and got turned leaving the pits under green, trying to dodge an official and not hit the 20 (Tony Stewart). As soon as a caution finally fell and the field tightened up again, we immediately got after it. The caution at the end of the race hurt us. I really think we would have had a chance at the win. Denny (Hamlin) and I worked really well together all day. We were both there at the end and could have made a run for it. I'm extremely happy with a top-5 finish though and we were able to gain back a couple of spots in the points. I'm so proud of this team."
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 26th
How was your first superspeedway race? "For my first superspeedway race I thought we hung in there and worked our way up through the field pretty well so hopefully I earned some respect out there. There at the end we spun, but luckily didn't hit anybody."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 27th
Can you talk about running up front with a chance to win today? "My day was fun, I felt like on Friday I had a car that could run up front. I didn't have the strongest car, but it was so fun. The new car is so fun to drive because you can really goof off, draft and learn. I had a good chance. I got into position to win so it was great. Coming to the white, we lost an engine. I am real disappointed for the whole team. Today was a bummer. To be taking the lead at the white flag and then finish 27th is tough. I really think we had a shot at it."
Can you talk about your race today and the wreck on the final lap? "We were just riding around in the back. We were struggling on the restarts -- the thing getting up to speed. That was probably what was killing us the most, but we got shuffled out on the last restart. I made one mistake on the two restarts before, but we still kind of had a good run going on there on the last lane. Me and Kasey Kahne had kind of hooked up and I was probably like six inches from getting away from that wreck and I got clipped and I'm not really sure what happened after that. I barely brushed the wall. I was going to try to get even back to the line. I think it might have even broke the transmission -- I'm not sure, though."
TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 38th
What happened that took you out of the race? "I just went to the second lane there and was there for a short amount of time, I thought we were alright and the closer we got to turn one the smaller that whole got so I was as close to Bobby (Labonte) as I could get right there and the hole closed up. It's just what happens late in these races. If it was my fault, I'm sorry. By looking at the video, though, I don't feel like I did anything wrong, really."
How was your day going prior to the accident? "The majority of the day we had a great day going. We were really in good shape with this Home Depot car until I had the right front go down and then I got us in the back. As late as it is in the race with 15 laps to go you've got to sit there and do what you can to get those spots back."
-credit: toyota motorsports