TOYOTA TALK: Hamlin Happy Chasing Chase Leader Busch Talks Talladega Reutimann Recalls Talladega Intensity Bodine Believes in Racing for Wins
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) NEWS, NOTES & NUMBERS: This year, Toyota drivers have combined for 11 wins, 36 top-five results, 73 top-10 finishes and six poles after 32 of 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) races … Toyota drivers Denny Hamlin (second in points) and Kyle Busch (fourth) are currently competing in the 2010 NSCS Chase … Hamlin is six points behind leader Jimmie Johnson after six of 10 races — the closest margin between first and second-place in the Chase battle after six races since the inception of the Chase in 2004 … Hamlin’s win at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday marked the 11th NSCS win for Toyota this year matching the most wins (2009) for the manufacturer since entering the series in 2007 … Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Busch, Hamlin and Joey Logano have all finished together in the top-10 five times this season, including four of the last seven NSCS races.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How has your strategy for the Chase played out to this point? “Obviously, we ’d love to have a huge lead right now. I think given how I raced and things like that over the course of this Chase so far, this is about the best-case scenario for us. I like being behind and chasing a guy. I do not like playing defense at all. So, to play offense all day at Martinsville, going through adversity to get the win — it’s a huge boost going forward. Right now, I feel like we ’re in a great position going to Talladega. We’ve been extremely strong at Talladega for the last two to three years. So, I ’m pretty confident.” Can you get into Jimmie Johnson’s head at Talladega by staying behind him in the race? “I don’t think so. I have actually worked a lot with Jimmie (Johnson) on superspeedway races. I totally agree with him that you’re strictly playing odds. You look back at the races that I don’t wreck — I finish in the top-two or three every time, but the ones that I don’t, I’m usually 20th or something. Jimmie’s had his fair share of crashes and we’ve had our fair share of crashes at Talladega. Honestly, I feel like we have a be tter Talladega package than what those guys have had. We’ve been very, very strong on superspeedways, especially Talladega. We’ve been able to lead a ton of laps there — we’ve got a good finish there last year. I would like to just worry about winning the race and if I do get shuffled though, I would like to just put myself in a safe spot.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing What is the best case scenario at Talladega with five laps remaining? “You just want to be leading and protect what you’ve got and try to keep the rest of the guys behind you. You know it’s going to be tough, you know it’s going to be crazy and guys are going to be trying to go three-wide, four-wide and everywhere trying to get a push draft going and everything. If you were leading and you had a teammate behind you or something like that, obviously that would make it pretty good.” Who is your favorite drafting partner at Talladega? “I drafted well with a lot of people over the past, but I would say (Juan Pablo) Montoya helped me win the race that I won at Talladega a couple years ago. Jimmie (Johnson) is always pretty good to draft with. My brother (Kurt Busch) as well.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Is it difficult to race at Talladega? “There’s not anything really difficult about driving Talladega. You have to have a good car and then you can hopefully get out there and get in the right line and get with the right guys and work with the right people to try to make your day go as good as you can. A lot of times you’re trying to get yourself in a position where you’re trying to let things shuffle out and see what happens. At Talladega, you would like to be able to qualify up front, but you’re really not all that worried about it because you know that in a matter of a couple laps you could be up there leading the thing.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (continued) Are you surprised at how intense the closing laps are at Talladega? “It seems like it only takes one guy to start running up through there and then everybody thinks they have to do it. The closer it gets to the end of the race, the more you have to get yourself in good position. It’s not hard to pass early on in the race, but the later in the race it goes, unless you have somebody behind you that will really help you, it’s hard to pass. You’re trying to get yourself in position to be in the right place at the right time when things cycle out. It’s crazy — you see everybody behaving so well early in the race and everybody is giving plenty of room and nobody is even close to each other. Then with 15 or 20 laps to go, it just gets really, really crazy and it gets pretty intense. In the end you’re out there racing and trying to win. Sometimes you need to take chances and make crazy moves and that’s what you see at the end of that race.”
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) NEWS, NOTES & NUMBERS: This year, Toyota drivers have combined for 16 wins, 67 top-five results, 133 top-10 finishes and 16 poles after 32 of 35 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) races … Kyle Busch remains third in the NNS point standings, despite starting just 26 of 32 races . . . Jason Leffler (eighth), Joey Logano (ninth) and Steve Wallace (10th) are also in the top-10 in points with three races remaining … The NNS will take the weekend off before returning to action at Texas Motor Speedway, Nov . 6.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) NEWS, NOTES & NUMBERS: This year, Tundra drivers have combined for 12 wins, 50 top-five results, 103 top-10 finishes and 10 poles after 21 of 25 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) races … Todd Bodine (first), Aric Almirola (second), Timothy Peters (seventh), Mike Skinner (eighth) and David Starr (ninth) are in the top-10 in the NCWTS point standings with four races remaining … Bodine leads second-place Almirola in the point standings by 282 points … Toyota is currently 10 points ahead of Chevrolet in the NCWTS manufacturer’s point standings.
TODD BODINE, No. 30 Germain.com Toyota Tundra, Germain Racing Is your team focused more on ‘points racing’ or winning races? “We prepare every week to go win the race. If we can’t win, we get the best points race that we can. That’s the way you have to look at it. I’ve had a lot of people asking me, ‘Are you going to go on the defensive — are you going into points racing mode?’ My answer is, ‘No, we’re in points racing mode every week.’ We still go to win the race, but if we can’t win then we just worry about getting the best points day we can and that’s what’s got us to this point, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing. If I was in points racing mode, I wouldn’t have tried to pass Kyle (Busch) at Kentucky for the lead. I would have ridden behind him and finished second.”
TOYOTA DRIVER ROSTER – Talladega Superspeedway
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series David Reutimann, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Camry Kevin Conway, No. 7 Extenze Camry Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Freight Camry Casey Mears, No. 13 GEICO Camry Kyle Busch, No. 18 M&M’s Camry Joey Logano, No. 20 Home Depot Camry Marcos Ambrose, No. 47 Kleenex-Clorox Camry Michael Waltrip, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Camry Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Camry Landon Cassill, No. 64 Gunselman Motorsports Camry Johnny Sauter, No. 66 Prism Motorsports Camry Scott Speed, No. 82 Red Bull Camry Kasey Kahne, No. 83 Red Bull Camry Joe Nemechek, No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Camry Jeff Fuller, No. 97 NEMCO Motorsports Camry
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Mike Skinner, No. 5 Exide Tundra Justin Lofton, No. 7 VisitPit.com Tundra Max Papis, No. 9 GEICO Tundra Timothy Peters, No. 17 Red Horse Racing Tundra Kyle Busch, No. 18 Traxxas Toyota Tundra Todd Bodine, No. 30 Germain.com Tundra Craig Goess, No. 46 Greenville Toyota Tundra Aric Almirola, No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Tundra David Starr, No. 81 Zachry Tundra