Event: Daytona 500
- Bobby Labonte (fourth) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Daytona International Speedway in his first start with JTG-Daugherty Racing.
- Camry driver Kyle Busch (eighth) also posted a top-10 finish in today's 500-mile event.
- Other Camry drivers in the 208-lap race at the 2.5-mile superspeedway included Martin Truex Jr. (19th), Steve Wallace (20th), Denny Hamlin (21st), Joey Logano (23rd), Kasey Kahne (25th), David Reutimann (30th), Brian Vickers (31st), Joe Nemechek (39th) and Michael Waltrip (40th).
BOBBY LABONTE, No.47 Kroger / USO Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 4th
What happened on the final two laps? "I hooked up with the 21 (Trevor Bayne) right here before we ever got to the start finish line and pushed passed the white flag, and the guys back in the back were jockeying around. Obviously, I saw them coming and I went into (turn) three and I was just probably a quarter of a car length up too high, but I think of the 99 (Carl Edwards) and he might have went to the outside of us. He (Carl Edwards) was going so fast. He had a run on us. Congratulations to Trevor (Bayne) and the Wood Brothers -- that's awesome for those guys. We came home with a top-four with our Kroger USO Toyota Camry so that was good. It was a little wild out there today."
What does it mean to you to start the season like this? "It means a lot. People are going to criticize me for not laughing or smiling enough or whatever, but I was still disappointed we didn't win this Daytona 500. That's going to bother me probably for a little bit, but I think by tomorrow morning. These guys did a great job today. We battled back from a near spin over there and we got a top-five out of it. Today was such a wild day. It was just a little bit too wild at times so to survive -- I think, was a big thing."
Did you think the racing was wild out on the track today? "It was eventful at times. We got kind of spun there one time and I hit Martin Truex (Jr.) there one time too hard off of (turn) four and got him on pit road and I hate that. In one way we thought it was going to be a good day -- as far as a good day, solid day with not many yellows and then it turned out to be all kinds of stuff going on out there. The push deal was good but, man, you can get some guys out there that are just a little too aggressive on it. My car wasn't fast enough at times. There at the end, it was a great day for us in our Kroger Toyota Camry. We've got USO onboard. Thank God for a great day and we just survived this thing and finished fourth. Wish we could've won, but it looked like the 99 (Carl Edwards) and 34 (David Gilliland) were coming with a full head of steam and we couldn't really keep up with them."
How important is it for you to get off to a good start with a new team? "It's real important. In the points and the way the points are and everything. Attitude is everything and these guys have great attitudes. Frankie (Kerr, crew chief) did a great job today calling pit strategy -- four tires, no tires sometimes. We had track position, we didn't have track position it was just pretty wild out there obviously. Trevor (Bayne) had a fast car and we saw that all weekend long. We were able to come home with a top-five and that was awesome for these guys."
KYLE BUSCH, No.18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 8th
How wild was it out on the track? "I think TV will sum it up -- pretty crazy day, overall. Everything was just all over the place and pretty nuts. Glad we were able to come out of this with a pretty good finish for our M&M's Toyota. It felt good that we had a really fast race car. We just needed to get some help there and we got a lot of help with teammates and then trying to find some other guys that would help us -- and there wasn't many of them. We kind of did it on the end on the 78 (Regan Smith) car, just pushing him. To come home with an eighth-place finish -- that's not bad. That's something that we can take and just get the heck out of here with."
How much did all the damage to your race car affect you on the track? "There ain't a car out here that doesn't have damage on it, so I don't know that damage was a real factor. Even the 21 (Trevor Bayne) car has got damage and he won the race. It was nuts. It was wild, just as wild as we all expected it."
How do you feel about heading to Phoenix next week? "Glad to go back to a regular race track that drivers matter and car handling matters. I've never been a real big fan of the restrictor-plate racing, but today was exciting and different and wild. You know, I had a little bit of luck on my side because at least I made it out unscathed, relatively."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No.56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Finishing Position: 19th
How was your race today? "We had a decent day there for about the first 80 to 90 percent. We lost our partner, got shuffled back, almost got spun out -- had to come down pit road. We kind of fell way back. Then we were just in the back on one of those last restarts and I don't know what happened off of turn two. The 7 (Robby Gordon) was down on the apron and about spinning out. I got just totally slammed into the fence off of two and there was nothing I could do. It's a shame for all these guys. You race all day -- you race 500 miles and you get wrecked with two or three to go. It's pretty frustrating. I have to thank everybody at NAPA and all the guys who work on this car -- the guys at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing). We had decent speed. We didn't have one of the best cars out here. It seemed like the Fords could push and push and push all day. I could only push three or four laps -- five laps and I would get hot. I couldn't keep it cool. We have a little bit to work on for next time, but the car had enough speed to be up front if I could just get the right push. I just ran out of teammates at the end."
How mentally challenging was today's race? "It's a lot, but it's no different than anywhere else we go. You have to keep your head in the game all day long and we were able to do that. We were in a pretty decent position there until we got turned sideways down pit road and that kind of screwed our whole deal up. Wish it would have happened earlier so we could have recovered from it."
STEVE WALLACE, No.775-Hour Energy Toyota Camry, Rusty Wallace Racing Finishing Position: 20th
DENNY HAMLIN, No.11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 21st
What happened toward the end of the race? "I was just laying back and being patient and waiting for the right time to make a move. Mike (Ford, crew chief) and I decided with about 75 laps to go that we would go to the front. We hooked up with Ryan (Newman) and went right up through there. I was worried that if we gave up the middle lane and went three-wide that something would happen. I guess the 78 (Regan Smith) got turned and we had nowhere to go. We came to the pits and had too much damage to the nose to put on a new tire and lost a lap. It's frustrating, for sure, because we executed our plan and were right in it with five or so to go and got caught up in a wreck."
JOEY LOGANO, No.20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 23rd
DAVID REUTIMANN, No.00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing @Finishing Position: 30th
What happened that took you out of the race? "It's just a product of this type of racing. It wasn't Mike's (Michael Waltrip) fault. The guys in front of us started moving up and when you're pushing, you're at the mercy of the guy in front of you. The guy in front has to tell you what's going on and I probably was a little late there and got us both in trouble. I know it tore up a lot of cars and I hate that ended up happening. It's unfortunately a product of this type of racing. In those situations you wish it was a single car wreck. You don't want to mess everybody else up."
JOE NEMECHEK, No.87 AM FM Energy Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 39th
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No.15 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 40th
What happened that forced you out of the race? "The same thing happened twice. I was talking to Kyle (Busch) on the radio and we get there and at the last minute he says I'm going to the middle. Well, I'm pushing him and he says he's going to the middle and he goes. And it spins him out. I have to know a little bit ahead of time. With Dave (David Reutimann), he warned me. He said, `I don't know what I'm going to do, chill out.' So I was barely against him and then he said at the very last minute, `I'm going to the middle.' They make that quick move and it just spins them out. I've been doing this all week and I haven't spun anyone out. I'm involved in both of them and I don't know what I could have done different. I was talking to the dudes and I just hate it. I hate it that my cars got tore up and I hate it that you have to be so aggressive so early. Maybe you don't. Probably now you can see that probably waiting around would have been a good idea."
What is this type of racing like on the drivers? "It's crazy. It's hard. I was so tired after yesterday and I was so tired after the 150s, mentally. You're just so focused and you're watching your temperature gauge and you're wondering what's up ahead, you're wondering who's catching you from behind. There's just so many things happening mentally that it's almost impossible to keep up with. It's great having those guys on my radio. Kyle (Busch) was perfect to be talking to. He said, `I'm going to go to the middle.' And when he went, it just was the change of direction that got him and then David (Reutimann) and I did the same darn thing. I'm real quick to say when I screwed up, but I don't know of anything I could have done different. I was being gentle, I was being easy and those guys just made moves that turned them around."
Kyle Busch and David Reutimann indicated that the accidents were not your fault -- do you agree? "It was part my fault, as (Ken) Schrader would say because I was out there. When you go out there and race then you just assume part responsibility."
How has your time in Daytona been for Speedweeks? "I got blessed Friday night and I just wanted to say thank you and that's what this week was all about. I got to say thank you Friday night and I really wanted to say thank you again today, but it didn't work out. You're going to see some crazy stuff today. A lot of people don't get it. This is the Daytona 500 and we've been sleeping all winter waiting for this race and I woke up this morning -- a beautiful day. The crowd is amazing, the stands are packed. All of our sponsors are here - - so disappointing to leave early, but I'm going to become a fan now and a car owner and I'm going to those boxes and try to cheer one of my cars on."
-source: toyota motorsports