Toyota MENCS NHMS Post-Race Recap

by Official Release On Sun, Jul. 16, 2017

Toyota Post-Race Recap
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Race 19 of 36 – 318.46 miles, 301 laps
July 16, 2017


2nd, Kyle Larson*
5th, Kevin Harvick*
*non-Toyota driver


1st, MARTIN TRUEX JR. 758 points
3rd, KYLE BUSCH 650 points
5th, DENNY HAMLIN 589 points
11th, MATT KENSETH 524 points
17th, ERIK JONES 427 points
18th, DANIEL SUÁREZ 404 points
34th, COREY LaJOIE 130 points
36th, GRAY GAULDING 86 points
*non-Toyota driver
**unofficial point standings

· Camry driver Denny Hamlin captured his and Joe Gibbs Racing’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) victory of the year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
· The win is the 99th for Toyota since joining the MENCS in 2007 and the manufacturer is now one triumph from its milestone 100th Cup victory.
· Hamlin led the field twice for 54 laps (of 301) to claim his 30th-career MENCS triumph.
· Camry drivers Martin Truex Jr. (third), Matt Kenseth (fourth) and Daniel Suárez (sixth) also recorded top-10 finishes for Toyota on the 1.058-mile track.
· Suárez’s sixth-place finish ties his career-best Cup result. He also finished sixth at Dover International Speedway in June.
· Truex led the field three times for a race-high 137 laps and won the race’s first stage, while Kyle Busch (12th) led the field twice for 95 laps and won the second stage. Kenseth led the field twice for four laps.
· Four Camry drivers combined to lead 290 laps at New Hampshire. Last weekend at Kentucky Speedway, Toyota drivers led 264 circuits (of 274). In two weeks, Toyota drivers have led 554 laps (of 575) – 96 percent of the last two races.
· Toyota has now swept consecutive NASCAR race weekend with two national series victories in New Hampshire after winning three NASCAR national series races at Kentucky last weekend.
· Camry drivers have claimed four of the top-six finishing positions in consecutive Cup races.


DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How were you able to get your first win of the year with a backup car?
“Yeah, just it’s a great feeling. I know we’ve been getting better and better as the year goes on, but definitely needed a win for the organization and for myself and just kind of get some momentum going with the playoffs are coming up, so we’ve got to get going. Really this is awesome. We led a lot of laps for Safe Kids – FedEx donates $111 for the laps that we lead this season, so awesome for them to do that for the FedEx Cares program. Toyota, all their support, Coca-Cola, the Jordan brand – just couldn’t say enough about this race team. It’s a team effort and for them to do the extra work to get us – that engine change before qualifying was key and that pays off.”

How does it feel to be back in victory lane?
“It’s great. Definitely a team effort. This is a – I put us behind on Friday with the backup car getting in a wreck, but this – I really wish we would race that car that was in the hauler, but this one they did a great job getting it as close as they could working on the balance, getting it good yesterday and team effort. This is a total team effort all around.”

What was it like fighting with Kyle Larson at the end?
“Yeah, they’ve (Kyle Larson and the No. 42 team) just been so fast this year and we honestly haven’t been able to keep up and so for us to be able to get the lead there, stretch it out – I knew it was going to be important for me to stretch out the lead as far as I could, that way I could pace myself at the end of the race and it was just enough.”

What does this do for you and your team?
“Yeah, we get in the playoffs, we get some playoff bonus points and we’re ready to go now, so we’ve got to – we’ve still got a lot of work to do. I feel like we need a little bit more speed out of our cars to be competitive week in, week out, but honestly this is a great place to start.”

MIKE WHEELER, crew chief, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Is there anything you want to say after securing your playoff spot?
“A relief. He (Denny Hamlin) did a good job. Everybody said we had a good chance today. He told me we didn’t have to change much and we were a little bit off face, but we made it work and executed today and I’m really happy with these guys.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 WIX Filters Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
How was your race?
“Yeah, you know, we had a really good WIX Filters Toyota for most of the race and led a bunch of laps and then got that flat tire, kind of got off sequence. You know, whatever happened there after lap 200 or so I think the VHT was kind of wore off the track and we started to lose our edge a little bit there. We still had a shot, but on the last restart we got the inside lane there, restarted third. It wasn’t the place to be, obviously. I think the 11 (Denny Hamlin) started fourth and that was really the place I would have liked to have been. And then we just didn’t get a good restart on the bottom and lost a couple spots and had to battle back and then just didn’t quite have the speed at the end of the race that we had the first 200 laps. All in all, it was a tough fought day. We had to come from 24th at one point in the field and just a hard fought day, a good job by everybody and a solid third place effort. Just didn’t have enough there at the end.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 DEWALT Flexvolt Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Positon: 4th
Did you think you had a chance to win at the end?
“After we came off pit road with two tires, no, I did not think it was going to be us because there was nobody behind me. They were all still back there putting lefts on, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and the crew did a great job today. We had a fast DEWALK Camry. We had good pit stops. We had good strategy to get us those stage points and had a good enough car to still get back through and finish pretty good in the second stage, so I felt like we had the car. We just needed to have those left side tires at the end.”

Was today a statement?
“It doesn’t make any difference. It really doesn’t – I mean, that’s, that’s way out in the future. That doesn’t change anything for today. You don’t try any harder and you don’t try any less. You do the best you can every week. When you try to do anything different than that, the results always go downhill, so raced as hard as we could race today. They gave me a great race car. Just didn’t work out.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
How was your race?
“It was a long day for sure, but, you know what, these guys never give up. They worked hard all weekend long just to make adjustments to the car and try to make the car a little bit better. The race track changed pretty much all weekend with the VHT and with the weather. I think today has been the sunniest day of the whole weekend, so we had a couple issues there on the pit road leaving my box on the stop, but very proud of these guys. We made some good adjustments in the last couple runs we were able to overcome for a good finish.”

How big is Denny Hamlin’s win for Joe Gibbs Racing?
“This sport is built of momentum, so, you know, half of the season without wins it was something big, so now with Denny (Hamlin) finally getting one trip to victory lane, it’s a big deal for Joe Gibbs Racing and hopefully we can build on that and move forward.”

ERIK JONES, No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Finishing Position: 39th
What ended your race?
“Yeah, I think so. I guess we cut a left front or a right front – I’m not sure. Just made a little contact on pit road, but didn’t have any marks on the tires, so we thought it’d be fine and obviously not – we didn’t even make it a lap, so no indication really. It’s just unfortunate. The 5-hour ENERGY Camry was pretty fast. I thought we had probably an easy top-10 car if not a few adjustments away from being a top-five car, so just really didn’t need a day like this trying to make the playoffs here. Feel like we’re going to work hard to try to get a win at this point. We’ll keep after it. Just need some good luck coming our way and hopefully we get it soon.”

What did happen on pit road?
“Yeah, I think we were just kind of three wide just kind of sandwiched in there and I came out and the 11 (Denny Hamlin) was on my door and the 5 (Kasey Kahne) came out and was on my door too, so just got too tight and made some contact. I guess it was just enough to let it cut the tire or something. Just really unfortunate. We had a good race car – the 5-hour ENERGY Camry was a top-10 car for sure, so just got to keep working at it. We’ve had some really bad luck this year and this is another one of those days, so hopefully we can turn it around.”

Is it more frustrating when this happens early in a race?
“Yeah, it is. It’s just been kind of our year, you know? Just had these bad instances happen and nothing our doing. Just a bad situation and it’s unfortunate. The 5-hour ENERGY Camry was good. It’s getting better. We’ll just have to keep after it and hopefully be better next week.”

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