Toyota NSCS Phoenix Post-Race Notes & QuotesBy Official Release
TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Post-Race Notes & Quotes
Phoenix International Raceway – March 3, 2013
Denny Hamlin (third) was the highest finishing Camry driver in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Toyota drivers Clint Bowyer (sixth) and Matt Kenseth (seventh) also earned top-10 results in Arizona.
Camry driver Mark Martin (21st) led the field twice for 75 laps (of 316) after starting the race from the pole.
Other Camry drivers in the field included Kyle Busch (23rd), Bobby Labonte (24th), David Reutimann (25th), Travis
Kvapil (29th), David Stremme (30th), Joe Nemechek (31st), Martin Truex Jr. (36th) and Mike Bliss (42nd).
After Phoenix, three Toyota drivers are in the top-10 in the unofficial NSCS point standings — Hamlin (fourth), Bowyer (fifth) and Martin (seventh).
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
How much did your race car change during the race?
“Our car, we got it a lot better at the end — that’s for sure. Of course, our finishing position is as good as we’ve been all day. Really, just tried to make something happen on the restart. What can you do? We just struggled today. I know it’s tough to say that after finishing third — definitely have some work to do.”
How much did you learn about the new race car today?
“We learned a lot. I don’t want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our generation five cars. This is more like what the generation five was at the beginning. The teams hadn’t figured out how to get the aero balance right. Right now, you just run single-file and you cannot get around the guy in front of you. You would have placed me in 20th-place with 30 (laps) to go, I would have stayed there — I wouldn’t have moved up. It’s just one of those things where track position is everything.”
Are you happy with your finish today?
“We overachieved, that’s for sure. Didn’t have a third-place car — every run I was hanging on and playing defense with the guys behind me. It’s frustrating because you can catch a guy, you just can’t pass him. Once you get in his wake, there’s just no getting around him. That’s just something that’s a byproduct of a new car that we really haven’t developed all that much. A very, very hard tire from Goodyear — especially on the left side — we’ve got to get that softer. Once we do that, you’ll have some tire wear and overtaking like there’s supposed to be.”
Were you aware Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t maintain his position during the final caution?
“Yeah, I mentioned something on the radio and they said they are putting him (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) back there. You can’t fall back 30 lengths and then get a run and catch a car off. You’re supposed to maintain speed. Everyone out there is running a certain speed, once someone stops, you can’t just stop for them — you have to go around him. Once you pass him, you take the position. Everyone’s aware when you’re in fuel save mode, you’ve got to be able to stay in front of the car behind you.”
Did you have enough fuel at the end of the race?
“You don’t know what to do. There’s so many different ways to save fuel. Nobody really has it figured out. There’s ways to shut off — I’m so paranoid to shut my car off now because you see some of the things that can go wrong, I just keep my car running and if I run out, I run out. I didn’t save any.”
What was the timing like on the final restart?
“It bothered me because I was behind Jimmie (Johnson) and we were way too far back from the leader when we got to Turn 1. I was thinking the whole time it was actually Jimmie’s race to win. Usually the guy who can get to the outside into Turn 1 can typically be the guy in the catbird seat off of Turn 2, and obviously with Carl (Edwards), whatever he did — I didn’t even see it because I was so focused on Jimmie’s back bumper that I just know that Carl was way out there by the time we even got going. He was the leader, he had the right to go any time he wants. But I didn’t look and see when he went or if he went early or late or anything like that. I was plotting my move ever since I saw Jimmie and Brad (Keselowski) side-by-side. I knew it was going to be interesting, at least for that lap, because Brad was driving so hard, eventually he was going to slide up, and he knew he was going to slide up, and he did and opened the door for me.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued)
How did you pass so many cars in the race after starting at the rear of the field?
“I hate to be ‘Denny-downer,’ but I just didn’t pass that many cars today. That’s the realistic fact of it. We started 40 something, we finished third and you think that we just motored our way through the pack. And that’s just not the case of what happened. I’m ecstatic about our finish, don’t get me wrong, because we did not have a third-place car today. But, my pit crew just kept putting me in a position to race those guys, and then I capitalized when one or two guys in front of me made some mistakes here and there, I’d get one more spot, two more spots, next thing you know I’ve got a shot to possibly get a win at the end. That’s what you’ve got to do when you don’t have the best car. It was a teamwork third-place run today, that’s for sure.”
Did you have any concerns about the reliability of your engine?
“Not really. The drivers will not change anyway that they drive to try to help reliability because if we do that then we’re altering our chances to win, and we’re not going to do that.”
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
Are you pleased with your finish after the problems in the pits?
“After everything that happened, it was a decent day. We got up there and got position. I thought we were going to have at least a top-five car. I was going to have to move him (Denny Hamlin) out of the way to get by him. Pretty early in the year to be causing feuds already. So, I just rode right there. Then I saw the 32 (Ken Schrader) have trouble and I was like, ‘Uh oh, it’s going to get wild now.’ All in all it was a decent day for our 5-hour ENERGY Toyota.”
How was the new car in race conditions?
“I think it was fine. Unfortunately, the only thing I saw that was a problem all day was the tires. A lot of the guys are having tire issues. All in all — not a bad start.”
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Husky Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 7th
What are your thoughts on today’s race?
“I don’t think the finish shows how good we ran. I thought we ran really, really good. I thought we had one of the best cars most of the day. Had really great adjustments. Great strategy — pit stops — the whole things was there. We just didn’t get the finish. Once we got singled out, you just couldn’t really go anywhere. I felt like if we were in the front we would have driven away from everybody. I just couldn’t get enough speed to get around the guys.”
Are you pleased with the performance of the new car today?
“I think for the first race it was great. I think everybody loves these cars. The goal is always to get them easier to pass and they got a ton of downforce right now. I’m sure NASCR is going to adjust as they go and try to make it a little bit easier for the rear cars to catch somebody. It’s just really tough. You couldn’t really get close to anybody and that made it tough to pass.”
Are you looking forward to racing in Las Vegas?
“I’m looking forward to going to Vegas. After Daytona last weekend and this week too — I thought we had, maybe not the best car, but one of the best cars. We didn’t get the finish again, but we had one of the best cars, so that’s really encouraging. I’m looking forward to going to Vegas. Hopefully, build on that and get a little better finish.”
MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 21st
How was your race today?
“We learned a few things and we’ll try to apply them next time. Obviously, it’s a disappointing result for a great effort on the weekend. The car was pretty fast, but we had multiple problems today.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 23rd
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Glad Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Finishing Position: 24th
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 83 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position: 25th
TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position: 29th
DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Toyota Camry, Swan Racing
Finishing Position: 30th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
Finishing Position: 31st
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Filters Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 36th
MIKE BLISS, No. 19 G-Oil/Plinker Tactical Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports
Finishing Position: 42nd