* Denny Hamlin (15th) and Kyle Busch (16th) were the highest-finishing Toyota drivers in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Texas Motor Speedway.
* Other Camry drivers in the field included Kasey Kahne (21st), Joey Logano (24th), Bobby Labonte (25th), Casey Mears (26th), Brian Vickers (27th), David Reutimann (29th), Martin Truex Jr. (35th), Joe Nemechek (39th), Michael McDowell (40th) and Mike Skinner (43rd)
* Busch fell to second-place in the unofficial NSCS point standings after Texas, and is now nine points behind leader Carl Edwards.
* Other Toyota drivers in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS point standings after seven of 36 races include Kahne (16th) and Hamlin (20th).
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office/March of Dimes Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 15th
Were you surprised at how much you struggled tonight? “Really, we just had one bad run and that was the one that got us caught a lap down and we just couldn’t get it back. We stayed in the ‘lucky dog’ position for the last -- it seemed like 150 laps, but just never got the caution to capitalize on it. Just a little frustrating, but still once again we didn’t have a 15th-place car -- we had about a seventh or eighth-place car, somewhere in that neighborhood. At times, it felt like we were really good. We just got caught kind of in the wrong pit sequence. I felt like our strategy was good. Pit stops were a little bit better this week. But, just really had bad timing. We were going to be the ‘lucky dog’ and the caution came out right as the leader passed someone else. So, for me it’s just frustrating in that sense.”
Did this race being the first night race here impact anything? “No, not really. We won here at night last year in November. It really didn’t play too much of a factor. What is different is practicing in the heat of the day like we were and of course coming out here and racing at night. The conditions were -- the track I felt like it was fairly consistent. We tried to adjust for it and missed the setup just a hair. We weren’t too terribly off tonight.”
Did you get anything on the grill during the race that slowed you down? “We were running hot for a while -- a portion of the race. We had some excess tire build up on the grill. Really, I don’t think it had any hindrance on our performance.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 16th
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What was the issue your team had with the wheel being loose on lap 210? “This Interstate Batteries M&M’s pit crew is the fastest pit crew on pit road and whenever you’re pushing the limits in a performance-based sport, you’re going to sometimes make a mistake. Unfortunately, we left a left rear wheel loose and after you do that it just kills all the threads and the studs and from that point forward, you cannot get the wheel tight. We had one error -- it looked like we had two to three errors -- but it was really one error and that caused mechanical damage that you’re stuck with for the rest of the race. I stand behind these guys. I’m going to encourage them to go to Talladega and be even faster. They’re fast every week and they make very few mistakes. I’m proud of them and I’m not going to knock them down tonight.”
How was the race car before the wheel issue? “We had a pretty good race car. This Toyota Camry was really fast. I thought we had a shot to run up front and lead some laps there. It seemed like the track was coming to us later, but then we did have the loose wheel issues and couldn’t show it. We had a solid top-three or four car for sure. I think if it would have played out, I think we would have given them a run for their money. We still need to work on our cars a little bit more. Kyle (Busch) was driving awful hard today to run that lap time. We need to go back to the shop and work on our cars and bring a little bit better product to the track for him. All in all we can’t complain, I think we had another top-five car.”
Unfortunately, we left a left rear wheel loose and after you do that it just kills all the threads and the studs...
What did you think of the team and Kyle Busch for hanging in there the remainder of the race? “That’s why I’m so proud of this race team. We’re going to have to handle adversity -- that’s something that we probably didn’t do as good as we wanted to last year. It’s actually good to have a few tests early in the year to see how tough you are and nobody hung their head. Kyle (Busch) was in great spirits and he understands what’s going on. I’m really proud of how everybody is coming together and sticking up for one another. That’s something that we probably lacked last year. I think we made a lot of progress.”
Will this wheel issue be a concern for the next race? “I’m 100 percent convinced it’s already resolved.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 24th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Bush’s Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 25th
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 26th
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 29th
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Finishing Position: 35th
Are you okay after the accident that took you out of the race? “Yeah, I’m fine. Just an unfortunate deal for this NAPA Toyota. We were struggling a little bit tonight. We were running our butts off and were sitting there running 16th and had to make a quick stop under green and lost a lap. We tried to take two (tires) to overcome it, but once you make one mistake, it just snowballs -- that’s what happened to us. It’s unfortunate. It sucks to have this happen two weeks in a row. We were going to battle to a decent finish tonight, we sure didn’t need to be wrecked.”
What caused the wreck? “The 2 (Brad Keselowski) checked up in front of me, I checked up and got hit from behind. It’s just an unfortunate racing situation. You make mistakes, and you get back there and you get desperate and you take two tires, things like that. You just get yourself in trouble.”
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 39th
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 HP Racing LLC Toyota Camry, PRISM Motorsports Finishing Position: 40th
MIKE SKINNER, No. 60 Big Red Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 43rd
-source: toyota motorsports