Toyota NCWTS Pocono Post-Race Recap

by Official Release On Sat, Jul. 28, 2018

Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Pocono Raceway
Race 14 of 23 – 150 miles, 60 laps
July 28, 2018

3rd, Dalton Sargeant*
4th, Stewart Friesen*
5th, Justin Hayley*
*non-Toyota driver

1st, Johnny Sauter* 587 points
2nd, NOAH GRAGSON 522 points
3rd, Grant Enfinger* 410 points
4th, Stewart Friesen* 495 points
5th, BRETT MOFFITT 485 points
12th, TODD GILLILAND 328 points
23rd, SPENCER DAVIS 126 points
25th, HARRISON BURTON 113 points
26th, DAVID GILLILAND 107 points
*non-Toyota driver
**unofficial point standings

· Tundra driver Kyle Busch tied the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory record when he captured his 51st-career win at Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway on Saturday afternoon.

· Busch started from the pole and led a race-high 53 laps (of 60) to tie the milestone mark in the NCWTS.

· Busch’s 51st-career triumph in the NCWTS ties him with Ron Hornaday Jr. in the series record book. Busch will next compete in the NCWTS in 2019.

· Erik Jones finished second after starting from the rear of the field when he replaced driver Noah Gragson, who was forced to miss the race due to illness.

· Jones led one lap in his first NCWTS start since 2016.

· Tundra driver Todd Gilliland finished seventh after winning the race’s first stage to mark his first stage win of the 2018 season.


KYLE BUSCH, No. 51 Cessna Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Finishing Position: 1st

How special is it to tie the Truck Series victory record with your 51st-career win?

“It’s awesome. I can’t say enough about everybody at Kyle Busch Motorsports and everybody that’s gotten these win totals to where they’re at, you know? Racing with Billy Ballew and racing KBM stuff, back in the heyday with – I don’t think I won a race with Morgan-Dollar, but I ran with those guys, you know? It’s certainly – it’s a true testament to all the hard work and everybody, all the dedication and perseverance everybody has a Kyle Busch Motorsports to get me such a fast Cessna Beechcraft Tundra here. The guys at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) do an awesome job for us. Thanks to Toyota, Incredible Bank, Black Clover, DVX Eyewear, Rowdy Manufacturing. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of great people and wouldn’t be here without them.”

How proud are you of Erik Jones and how good was he today?

“Absolutely. No question Erik (Jones) did a phenomenal job. I knew he’d be the best choice for it and if he could have got through traffic just a tick better, he probably would have won the race, you know? So that’s why I didn’t pick a slouch so I could beat anybody. I picked a good one so I could race against him and that was obviously fun. You put the best of the best out there and we get to go at it with one another, so Erik’s a special kid and enjoy racing with him all the time.”

What was it like battling Erik Jones today?

“Yeah, they were – they had a better truck than us here this weekend – the 18 (Erik Jones) did. I tried – we tried to fix this thing and work on it and make it better, but I probably made it slower in all the things that I changed on it rather than making it faster, but Rudy (Fugle, crew chief for Erik Jones) and those guys are amazing. They do such a great job and I knew Erik was going to be fast in that truck and I knew Noah (Gragson) was going to be fast in that truck. They were the ones that we had to beat, you know? So I wish we were a tick faster, but obviously being that little bit slower we put on a better show. Erik was able to run me down and get there and I did everything I could to hold him off. I knew if I could pinch him for a few laps after he had that time to cool his tires getting to me that I could heat his tires back up and then I might be able to equal out to him and that’s kind of seemed to be the way we fell even with each other there, so, you know, a little bit of strategy play there and just experience I guess being a little bit out front and being able to get through traffic there on that restart to get ourselves an advantage.”

Did the handling give you trouble and did talent get you here?

“We kept working on it all weekend long and just never quite got it where we wanted it, you know? So all these guys – (Mike) Hillman (Jr., crew chief) and everybody on this number 51 Ceesna Beechcraft Toyota Tundra did an awesome job. I mean, we worked and worked and worked and maybe even came up with a couple ideas of my own that slowed us down, but overall Rudy (Fugle, crew chief for Erik Jones) and those guys on the 18 truck were just stupid fast, so I knew they were going to be tough to beat and I had to – I got a good restart. I got out front there and as Erik was able to kind of run me down it seemed like he could cool his tires off by doing so and I figured if I could at least pinch him one time and get him behind me for a couple laps or a couple corners that I might be able to equalize his tires to mine when I was out front because I was just pushing for everything I had and just too tight and, you know, knew that that would be my only shot to be able to hold him off was to just get him – his momentum broken – and when I did that with the lapped truck in Turn 2 it kind of seemed like it changed the race.”

What does it mean to tie a Hall of Famer in wins?

“It’s awesome. I mean, it’s certainly just a true testament to all the people that I’ve work with over time. I raced races with Morgan-Dollar – I don’t know if I ever won races with them – but then with Billy Ballew I ran a lot, won with them a lot and then of course with my own Kyle Busch Motorsports teams and a bunch of different crew chief. I think five or six crew chiefs I’ve won with here at my place, so, you know, it’s certainly been a lot of fun and a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work, a lot of perseverance from all my guys, everybody at Kyle Busch Motorsports. Rowdy Manufacturing guys did an awesome job building me an awesome piece here and Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), thank those guys for everything they help us with and of course just being able to get to victory lane once again, get win number 51 in the 51. Feels really good and now we can roll on into next year and try to go for me.”

Is this your most meaningful Truck Series win getting your 51st victory in the No. 51 Tundra?

“Yeah, it’s kind of funny the way numbers work out, isn’t it? That was pretty cool obviously being able to score that win. I know I ran a couple races in the beginning of the year in the 4 and wasn’t able to quite get to victory lane in that one, but both wins this year came with the 51 team, so really cool to race with these guys and to be able to do that. You know, it means a lot to Cessna and Beechcraft, as well as myself, so with the success that we’ve had though, we can’t rest on our laurels, you know? We’ve just got to continue to go to work this – the guys that are going to be the remainder of the season driving this truck, we’ve got to get them focused on what it takes to be good and run for top-fives, top-threes, score wins. Whatever it takes to keep ourselves moving forward for the owner’s championship with the 51.”

What was the process like finding a replacement for Noah Gragson?

“I mean, really you just start going down the list, right? First and foremost, it’s who’s here and then you look at, okay, who is still my teammate at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and if Erik Jones could fit, obviously him and Rudy (Fugle, crew chief for Jones) have a great relationship and connection of a couple years ago winning a championship together, so that was the first decision, first choice, and thankfully Jones said yeah, that he would be happy to do it, so we got them over there, got the seat fit and everything like that. I know Rudy was worries that the seat wasn’t quite matched up to the way Jones would need it, so we were kind of worrisome there, but they thought that William (Byron) would be a better fit, but I think that that would be harder to get approved to get William in the truck, but I’m sure if I would have made a call to Mr. H (Rick Hendrick) he probably would have been alright with it.”

MIKE HILLMAN JR., crew chief, No. 51 Cessna Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

How does it feel to guide Kyle Busch to a historic win?

“Just blessed to be a part of KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), you know? Everybody at KBM works really hard to be build really fast trucks. Rowdy Manufacturing builds really good chassis and just proud to be part of it.”

ERIK JONES, No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Finishing Position: 2nd

How was it jumping in the Tundra on the fly?

“Yeah, I mean, it was definitely a surprise, you know? I didn’t think that I’d be running a Truck race today, but it was fun. Hoped in after final practice and got the final fitment done in the seat and everything and it – it was a little snug. Noah’s (Gragson) a little smaller than me I believe, but it was close and we went out and the truck was great. I mean, I asked Rudy (Fugle) – I said, ‘You know, driving this thing today, did you at least give me a pretty good truck,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, I think it’s pretty fast,’ so definitely had good speed and I think really if we could have gotten out front at the end, we would have – we probably could held Kyle (Busch) off, but just got stuck on the bottom on that restart and lost a couple spots and just took too long to get through traffic to go up and challenge, but it was a fun day.”

How difficult is it to mentally prepare for a race in a hurry?

“I think I first found out maybe after the first practice – just before second practice, final practice today – but, I mean, yeah. You’re definitely changing your mindset getting into a Truck race. I was planning on probably going back and taking a nap and catching the end of the Truck race, so, you know, had to really kind of reset and try to think back. I don’t really have any notes with me here on Truck racing and had to think back to what I did here I guess three years ago in the trucks, so just trying to remember that and, you know, talked to Kyle (Busch) a little before the race, looked at some old data that I had from a test here a few years ago and just tried to refresh my memory and get in the mode of what we had to do. I knew it was going to be a little challenging coming from the back and obviously not being in the truck all day I didn’t know how it drove. I don’t know how Noah (Gragson) drives his trucks and so it was a lot of things that go through your head, but we had a great truck. We fired off and it was very quick and we were able to get up to the front pretty fast.”

What have you learned from Kyle Busch and how big a milestone is 51 Truck Series wins by Busch?

“Well, it’s a – I know 51 victories is a milestone he wanted to get to. I know he wanted to do it in the 51 truck. I can’t say I was thinking about that when we were about clear of him in the tunnel turn, but, you know, it – you know, Kyle’s (Busch) done a lot for me and my career. I mean, you look back to 2012 really and won it against him in the Snowball (Derby), tested his car at Nashville. He’s really gave me my first opportunity in the Truck Series with him and at that time at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) and it’s been fun to watch KBM grow, you know? When we first – when Darrel (Wallace Jr.) and I first came to KBM in 2013, they hadn’t won a race without a Cup driver in their truck and our big goal was to get obviously Darrel and I a win, so we both won that year and it’s been really cool to see it grow into a dominant organization in the Truck Series between – whether Kyle’s in it or not. Noah (Gragson) does a fantastic job along with Todd (Gilliland) and all the guys that they run their trucks, so it’s been cool to see it evolve.”

How did you lose time to Kyle Busch at the end?

“Well, I was pretty tight in the last run to begin with and had to use up a little bit to get through some traffic and had to use up a little bit more on the right front to get to Kyle (Busch). I saw the lapped trucks and they gave me the opportunity to get there. I was like, ‘Well, this is going to be my shot. Probably my only shot to get to the lead and if we can get to the lead, I think we can hold him off,’ and we came within about six inches of doing it and, you know, I had to kind of check up. There was four lapped trucks. We passed three of them on the straightaway and there was one more in the tunnel turn and I had to check up on the bottom or run him over, which I wasn’t going to do, so – and Kyle was still at my quarter. I had to give him space and it was – you know, it was a close moment. I knew that was probably out shot. I used up a lot of the truck just to make that one move. I was trying to save for that moment hoping that he was going to catch them weird and it just didn’t work out.”

Have you talked to Noah Gragson today?

“I haven’t yet. You know, I don’t know Noah (Gragson) very well. Obviously, he was not feeling well today, so I haven’t talked to him. I hope he’s doing alright and feeling better. It sounds like he was from Twitter, so I know he wanted to race today and he obviously had a pretty good truck to do it with, so it’s always as a driver hard to – I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to watch my car race without me in it, but I know it’s got to be a tough feeling to have to sit there and watch your race car go around without you in it.”

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