Toyota NSCS Daytona Test Notes & Quotes – Hamlin & Waltrip

by Official Release On Thu, Jan. 10, 2013

Daytona_International_Speedway_logoTOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Daytona Testing – Denny Hamlin, Michael Waltrip — Notes & Quotes Daytona International Speedway – January 10, 2013

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How is testing this new car different? “It was different than what we’re used to. This body style — we’re just trying to figure out where is the happy spot. Does it want to be straight behind the other car? Do you want to be offset a little bit? Really it seems like the back car gets a lot of air to it. It essentially makes it hard to suck up to the front car, which I think will bode well for our competition at other race tracks going forward where the front car doesn’t have such a huge advantage. That part of it is pretty optimistic. It definitely will lend more to pack racing versus two-car tandem.”

How will the new spring package affect the handling? “That will make it a little harder to drive, but the down force numbers on these cars are very similar to what we had before so really until we get into a full pack where we’ve essentially got people running 45 (second) flats rather than 46.30 (seconds) or whatever we were running. That’s when you really get a true feel for what the handling is.”

How is the vision in the new cars while drafting? “It’s tough — they’re wide. The back of them are wide and tall. The visibility is tough, but what I do like is that you can see out of the back with the spoiler height being a little lower you can see out of the back car a lot better. There’s a lot of things about this car that I definitely like.”

Why were you and Matt Kenseth faster with space between your cars versus the tandem runs? “We just were not able to keep together for one solid lap. I think it’s just the way these bodies are with the aero platform and everything. It’s just going to lend itself more to the pack racing. Like I said, it seems like the second car is getting just as much air thrown on the nose as what the front car is so it’s harder to suck up to the front car, which in turn will make for better pack racing versus two-car tandem.”

MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 30 Toyota Camry, Swan Racing/team owner, Michael Waltrip Racing Are you excited to run with Swan Racing for the Daytona 500? “We’re looking forward to Daytona. It’s my favorite time of the year every year, to come down here and get to participate in the greatest race in the world, in my opinion. To have won it before just makes coming back that much more special. This year is going to be particularly cool for me because I’m going to get to drive for Brandon (Davis, team owner, Swan Racing) and David (Stremme), and it’s going to be basically a reunion of when we won a few of these things. Tony (Eury) Jr., of course, as the crew chief and Steve Hmiel (competition director, Swan Racing) is there and I know some other faces from DEI (Dale Earnhardt Incorporated) that Brandon and David have put together. It’s just an amazing team that they’ve started and I’m hoping that my driving the car can help us get sponsors and can help them jumpstart what is going to be a very exciting year for the Swan Racing team.”

How did you put together this deal? “Our team raced for a championship last year and obviously with the new ‘Gen 6’ cars that everybody is working so frantically to prepare and get ready for Daytona — not only teams like ours who have raced in the series for several years now, but even a new team like Swan Racing is really fighting every day to get cars ready for Daytona. I just didn’t feel that it was smart for me to tax our guys with trying to prepare a fourth car. So, David’s (Stremme) team is looking for traction and want to let people know they’re here to race and they’re going to be contenders and they’ve got a really, really solid crew and team lineup. I was hoping that I could partner with someone like. It’s a Toyota — obviously it has to be a Toyota for me to even consider racing it. It does a couple things — for me, it gets me in the race. It accomplishes me getting to be a part of the race, but it helps Toyota if Michael Waltrip Racing and our team can partner with Swan Racing and help them with their Toyota program as they get ready to race in 2013. It was really a perfect match — a perfect marriage for us to partner together because there wasn’t going to be a fourth MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) car and these guys were coming to Daytona anyway. David and I have been talking for the last year about some of the hurdles that I had to clear along the way to build our team to now where we’re able to contend and compete for race wins and championships. He’s in that same situation. Back when I started in 2007 we struggled and I got out of the car and let Terry Labonte drive it some and I think we put P.J. Jones in the car. We did whatever we could to ensure that we were going to be at the race and doing things to ensure that we’re going to be able to give our sponsors and Toyota all that we hoped that we could give them. I know David would rather be driving, but I understand — when I was getting out of my car I would rather be driving too. I understand his thinking and appreciate his passion and Brandon’s (Davis, team owner, Swan Racing) commitment to come Sprint Cup racing and I’m glad that we put together a deal that will be mutually beneficial for both me as a driver and those guys as a team.”

MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 30 Toyota Camry, Swan Racing/team owner, Michael Waltrip Racing (continued) What keeps you motivated to continue racing? “It’s just Daytona. Last fall when I got to Talladega I remember the morning of the race I thought, ‘Nine years ago I won here at Talladega.’ When I was a kid – 16 years old – I remember driving to Talladega with my buddies and sat in the infield and watched. It was actually the day that Phil Parsons flipped on the front straightaway and I remember thinking how crazy Talladega was and how wild and fast it was and how much I wanted to be out there. To be able to win there and then go back nine years later this past fall when I got to race, I just felt like a kid again. I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be. Every time I come to Daytona I feel that way. The Truck win that I got back in 2011 was one of the most special memories of my whole career. Just being able to be in the lineup and knowing the possibilities — what that could mean and what we could accomplish with being here, it just excites me. Plus, I don’t know about David (Stremme), but every time that new car drives by I can’t quit looking at it. I just like the way it looks. It’s so different from what we’ve seen in recent past. It’s just a cool race car. Heck, anybody that races wants to drive a cool looking car. The new Toyota Camry that we’re going to race here in Daytona is sexy, it’s got great styling and it’s just a fun car to look at. That makes me that much more excited because it will be a fun car to be able to drive.”

Are you confident you can qualify into the Daytona 500? “I’m confident because of a couple of reasons. Obviously David’s (Stremme) history. He had a lot to do with the direction and the build of the car that he came here and made the race with a year ago and his hands are all over the cars that I will be driving this year. Plus, Tony (Eury) Jr.’s (crew chief) confidence — we rode down here together today and talked about some of the fun times we’ve had in the past, but mainly focused on what we’re going to have in 2013 when we get back here in a couple weeks. Toyota Racing Development is going to provide me with an engine, just like in my other three cars. We’re just confident in the people and we’re confident in the equipment. I’ve usually figured out my way to race to the front, so if it doesn’t go like we hope on qualifying day we’ll still start the race on Thursday very confident that we’ll be able to race our way into the race. I’ve made every one of them except for last year when we kind of screwed up leaving the pits. Other than that, we looked pretty good that day as well. I know now not to go on the apron.”

Is it strange to not be in the car testing this week? “No, it feels great. It feels great because I’ve done these tests many, many times and they’re not overly exciting and I’m able to learn just as much by watching and listening. I went over and chatted with Martin (Truex Jr.) and went over and chatted with all of our guys — Clint (Bowyer) and Mark (Martin) — and talked to Denny (Hamlin) and (Matt) Kenseth about their drafting. I’m just sucking up knowledge. Brandon (Davis, team owner, Swan Racing) is here along with David (Stremme) just, like I said, to make sure we’ve got a good feel for the landscape and how things are going to look when we come back in a couple of weeks.”

Does anything stand out with the new car? “No, not really. Our cars have speed, which is cool. The Toyotas have been up towards the top of the speed charts and I know we all smile when we see that. That will definitely relay when we come back. Mainly just hearing how the cars are driving from the guys, but then looking at the timing and the speed charts and seeing how the Toyotas stack up. Matt (Kenseth) and Clint (Bowyer) have been up toward the top the whole test. That’s very encouraging for me trying to qualify.”

Were you surprised at the performance of MWR in 2012? “Last year we snuck that in on everybody. We did some really cool things in 2011 I think that got us ready for 2012 and while a lot of people were surprised at our performance, we knew with our driver lineup and our cars — racing is so much more science now than it’s ever been. We can look at the data from the wind tunnel test and different measuring tools that we have and we just knew that we had better cars. If you look at the driver line-up, we knew it was a better driver line-up. We were very confident that we would be more competitive in ’12 — you all think I’m weird anyway and if I told you that I thought we were going to finish second in points you would have really thought I had a screw loose. I would have never been brave enough to predict that. In fact, I was a little nervous about our goal, which was two of the three cars to make the Chase. We were able to accomplish that. ’13 — we’re very optimistic. We know we’re not under the radar screen anymore, but we do believe that we’re prepared as well as any team can be considering all the changes that the sport has seen for the 2013 season. This partnership, this relationship with Swan — this will ultimately in the long haul benefit Michael Waltrip Racing. We’ll gather more data. We have another solid team with Tony (Eury) Jr. (crew chief, Swan Racing) and David Stremme and Steve Hmiel (competition director, Swan Racing) and those guys that will help enhance what we do. If we can win a couple more races than what we did last year and have two of the three cars back in the Chase then it will be a successful year for us.”

MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 30 Toyota Camry, Swan Racing/team owner, Michael Waltrip Racing (continued) Do you expect the manufacturers to play a larger role with the new cars? “I can’t wait to see how it plays out. I know the manufacturers along with NASCAR have spent a lot of time putting these cars, while they have their own style lines and their own look, they really worked hard at keeping them in the same box. Hopefully, that will play out as intended.”

What will the team engineers do during this three-day test? “We just collect data and if you go by our team there — there are dozens of engineers behind computers just getting every piece of information they can off the car and a lot of that stuff will be sent home today and our engineers back home can decipher it and a lot of it is taken back and the race engineers and crew chiefs study it. It’s so complex and there’s so many parts and pieces to it that it takes a long time, but a lot of it is verifying simulation or predictions that our crew chiefs and teams have made before we even came down. We do that everywhere we go, not just when we test, but we try to validate what we thought would be fast and what would work and what wouldn’t.”

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