HOMESTEAD HISTORY: Five Toyota Camry drivers competed in last year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season- finale at Florida's Homestead-Miami Speedway. Dave Blaney was the top Toyota finisher with a 12th-place result. Other Camry drivers in the...
HOMESTEAD HISTORY: Five Toyota Camry drivers competed in last year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season- finale at Florida's Homestead-Miami Speedway. Dave Blaney was the top Toyota finisher with a 12th-place result. Other Camry drivers in the field included Dale Jarrett (17th), David Reutimann (25th), Brian Vickers (42nd) and Jeremy Mayfield (43rd). Current Camry driver Denny Hamlin has recorded back-to-back third-place finishes at the 1.5-mile Florida oval.
FOLLOW-UP FROM PHOENIX: Hamlin (fifth) was the top finishing Toyota in Sunday's NSCS race at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). It was his 12th top-five Cup result of the season. Camry driver Kyle Busch (eighth) also earned a top-10 finish at Phoenix -- his 21st top-10 in 35 Cup races this year. Marcos Ambrose (18th) and Blaney (20th) also recorded top-20 finishes at the one-mile oval. Other Toyota drivers in the field included Tony Stewart (22nd), Michael Waltrip (24th), Reutimann (25th), Ken Schrader (27th), Scott Speed (40th) and Vickers (42nd).
HAPPY ENDING: Hamlin was happy to leave Phoenix with a top-five finish, but will be even happier to enjoy some time off after the final race of the season in Florida. "A lot of people will have a sigh of relief when the season is over, for sure," says Hamlin. "It's definitely been a long year for us and the traveling gets tough. We're just looking forward to hopefully solidifying our spot in the top-10 at Homestead."
TO BE IN THREE: For the third straight weekend, Busch will compete in all three NASCAR events during a race weekend. The 23-year-old Las Vegas-native will drive for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in both the Cup and Nationwide races, and will pilot a Tundra for Billy Ballew Motorsports in Friday night's truck race. "I like it because you get to go out there and drive and do what you love to do," says Busch. "For me, I just enjoy getting out there on the race track. I would presume that any extra time on the track is an advantage. To run the triple with the truck, the Nationwide and the Cup stuff, it always helps -- at least for me -- because you get a sense of the track, air pressure adjustments, and things to change on the vehicles throughout the race."
AMAZING ACHIEVEMENT: Busch has competed in 81 NASCAR races this season and has registered 21 victories in those events -- eight in NSCS, 10 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) and three in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). "It's great and it's a lot of fun to have that success like that this year," Busch says. "I've been able to run with a lot of great people and to be teamed with great race teams, and all the guys that have helped sponsor our stuff this year and get us to the race track. I don't really think about winning one in every four (races) or anything like that. You think about that you have 21 and all you want is more."
PHENOMENAL FEAT: "The year's not over yet, so once the checkered flag falls in the Cup race at Homestead then it'll be time to reflect and look back on it all and be like, ' Wow, that's pretty cool,'" says Busch, about his 2008 accomplishments. "I don't even know all the numbers to tell you the truth. All I know are the wins, the 10 in the Nationwide Series and the 21 overall. It's just phenomenal the way this year's gone. A lot of that success of course is right down to Joe Gibbs Racing and all these guys putting their hearts and everything into the organization with the Nationwide and the Cup program."
END OF AN ERA: Tony Stewart will wrap up his 10-year career with Joe Gibbs Racing on Sunday at Homestead. Stewart has learned many valuable lessons from Gibbs that he will take with him next season as he starts his own NSCS team. "I think he's made me a smarter businessman, being able to spend 12 years with him," says Stewart. "I've been very fortunate and blessed to be surrounded by a guy, and drive for a guy , that is of the caliber of Joe (Gibbs). ' And not only what he does as a team owner, but who he is as a person and what he means to us as a person."
DETERMINED DENNY: "We've made the 'Chase' all three years that we've tried and we're one of three teams that has done that. Now, it's time to set little loftier goals. We finished in the top-three the first season and we've struggled the last couple of years. Our performance has been well -- not a championship-caliber performance, but we've been good enough to be top-five or top-three in points every single year. It's just every single year we've had problems in the 'Chase.' We're not ahead of the curve as much as we were at the beginning of the year."
BOWLED OVER: Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Stewart will serve as the Grand Marshal for the 38th annual Fiesta Bowl Parade on Jan. 3, 200 9. "We spend so much time this time of year getting ready for the end of the season -- by the time the Fiesta Bowl comes around I'm just happy that I get to sit still long enough to watch it," says Stewart. "That's kind of become a tradition for us -- in our off-season with it being so short. All I care about is that we have two great teams come and play a great game. That in itself will be special no matter who it is."
OVERSEAS ADVENTURE: Following the season, Hamlin will make a journey overseas to the foothills of Mount Fuji in Japan for 'Toyota Motorsports Day' at Fuji Speedway. Hamlin will run several exhibition laps in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car and may get a chance to drive a Formula One car. "I'm excited about it," says Hamlin. "I've never gone overseas so it's going to be exciting for me. To meet some of the executives at Toyota -- I got to meet a few of them at Phoenix, and they said they're excited to get a ride from me. It's going to be fun, especially to get to know those guys. We're going to have a long partnership and it's a good way to build on it."
DOUBLE DUTY: In addition to Busch competing in all three NASCAR races at Homestead, two other Camry drivers will also be running a pair of events. Hamlin will compete for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NSCS race and Braun Racing in the NNS event, and Reutimann will drive Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) entries in NSCS and NNS competition.
DOLPHIN DUO: Terry Bassett, chief marketing officer for MWR, and Shannon Myers, jack man for the No. 55 MWR Camry, both have connections to the Miami Dolphins. Bassett was the vice president of marketing and business development for the Dolphins before his move to MWR earlier this year. Myers was a wide receiver at North Carolina's Lenoir-Rhyne University who was selected by the Dolphins in the 1995 NFL draft.
CHASING THE 'CHASE': Hamlin is the top Toyota driver in the 'Chase' standings, where he currently sits ninth in the 12-car field, 471 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. Busch (10th) and Stewart (12th) are also in the top-12 in points with one race remaining in the 2008 NSCS season.
-credit: toyota motorsports