PHOENIX PROFILE: This weekend, the Toyota Camry will make its fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) start at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). In April, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates Denny Hamlin (third) and Kyle Busch (10th) were the top...
PHOENIX PROFILE: This weekend, the Toyota Camry will make its fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) start at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). In April, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates Denny Hamlin (third) and Kyle Busch (10th) were the top Toyota finishers at the one-mile Arizona oval. In 13 starts at Phoenix, Tony Stewart has one victory (fall 1999) and eight top-10 finishes, including four top-five results in his last six races. Busch has one win (fall 2005), one pole position (spring 2006) and five top-10s in seven starts at Phoenix. In six Phoenix races, Hamlin has recorded one pole position (fall 2005) and three third-place finishes (fall 2005, spring 2006 and spring 2008).
TAKE ON TEXAS: It was a fuel mileage finish at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday that included plenty of last minute 'dash-and-splashes' on pit road. Camry drivers Busch (sixth) and Reutimann (10th) earned top-10 results in the 500-mile race. Other Toyota drivers in the field included Stewart (16th), Hamlin (17th), Brian Vickers (18th), Marcos Ambrose (21st), Michael Waltrip (27th), Dave Blaney (29th), Ken Schrader (30th), Scott Speed (33rd) and Joey Logano (40th). It was Logano's first NSCS start driving a Joe Gibbs Racing entry.
DAVID DELIVERS: Reutimann, driver of the No. 44 Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) Camry, ran among the top-five most of the 334-lap race at Texas and led the field twice for five laps en route to a 10th-place finish. "It goes to show you we have cars that are capable of running strong, leading races and taking the lead of races," said Ryan Pemberton, Reuitmann's crew chief. "It's good to think you have enough power when the motor's good enough, the team's good enough, the car's good enough and the driver's good enough to actually go out there and take the lead of the race. I probably could have tried to stretch it on fuel, but this team really needed a top -10 and I knew the way we pitted was a pretty conservative route to save a top-10 finish."
BUMP UP: At Texas on Sunday, Reutimann recorded his fourth top-10 finish of the season since the May Charlotte race. The Zephyrhills, Fla.-native has moved into 23rd-place in the overall driver point standings and pushed the No. 44 MWR Camry into the 25th spot in the owner point standings.
ARIZONA OUTLOOK: Does Busch expect to have strong runs at Phoenix? "In Trucks and the Nationwide Series I can win there. In Cup cars, we've struggled on the flat tracks and that's a flat track. I foresee the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the 99 (Carl Edwards) battling it out. The 16 (Greg Biffle) will probably be close to that."
TONY TALKS: Stewart has been racing at PIR since 1993 when he first competed in a USAC event at the desert oval. He participated in Indy Racing League (IRL) events at the track for two years before making the move to NASCAR in 1999. "It's always a place that we've liked," says Stewart. "We spent so much time out there it was a 'west coast home' away from home for us. With all of the different types of cars we've run out there -- it's just made it that much more fun."
WHO IS THE 'MUFFIN MAN'?: Scott Speed, driver of the No. 84 Red Bull Camry, will debut a T-shirt he designed for charity in conjunction with PIR and Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Muze Clothing Co., in the track media center on Friday. The T- shirt, which features an original 'muffin man' drawing by Speed, will be sold during the race weekend and on www.muzeclothing.com with proceeds benefiting the Southwest Chapter of Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). "This is a really cool opportunity for me to work on a project that ties one of my biggest passions fashion into motorsports, while also raising money for a great cause," said Speed. "We're hoping that through this project we can increase awareness and raise money for conditions such as ulcerative colitis, a disease that affects me personally."
PAST PRESSURE: In 2005, Hamlin was selected to drive the JGR No. 11 FedEx entry. "Back then, I was put in a good situation because there were no expectations," says Hamlin, who has earned four career Cup victories. "When I got in the car, there was really no pressure for me to do anything. We had a top-10 our second run out (Charlotte) and it tied the best finish that the team ever had. I felt confident that I had the ride so I was able to be relaxed with those last five races. Then I got the pole in Phoenix before the season was over. Those things took a lot of pressure off me."
CHASING THE 'CHASE': Stewart is the top Toyota driver in the 'Chase' standings, where he currently sits ninth in the 12-car field, 404 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. Busch (10th) and Hamlin (12th) are also in the top-12 in points with two races to go in the 2008 NSCS season.
-credit: toyota motorsports