Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. (third) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Brian Vickers led three times for 125 laps (of 500) in his 2012 season debut and claimed a fifth-place finish for Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR).
All three MWR drivers — Truex (third), Clint Bowyer (fourth) and Vickers (fifth) — claimed top-five finishes at the .533-mile short track. The finishes by MWR marked the first time the team has placed three cars in the top-five overall. Toyota drivers Joey Logano (16th) and Denny Hamlin (20th) also earned top-20 finishes at the Tennessee track.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Travis Kvapil (27th), Bobby Labonte (28th), Landon Cassill (29th), J.J. Yeley (30th), Kyle Busch (32nd), David Stremme (38th) and Joe Nemechek (40th). Following Bristol, four Camry drivers are in the top-12 in the unofficial NSCS driver point standings — Truex (fourth), Hamlin (fifth), Clint Bowyer (eighth) and Logano (ninth).
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 3rd How do you feel about all three MWR cars in the top-five? “So proud of the team — all the guys on the NAPA team and everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing). Clint (Bowyer) and Brian (Vickers) were up front all day long and this just says a lot about everything that everybody at MWR has done over the off season — working hard, giving us good race cars. We got off in the mid-part of the race, but had the race strategy at the end and a fast enough car to stay up there.”
How was your race today? “It was a great day for our NAPA Toyota and for everybody on our team. Obviously, it was a great day for MWR. Just do proud of Michael (Waltrip, team owner) and Rob (Kaufmann, team owner) and everything they’ve put into this team to get us to where we are. Proud of Chad (Johnston, crew chief) — his call at the end. He called to stay out and stuck to his guns and never second-guessed himself. He’s really coming into his own as a crew chief. I’m proud of him and the team and proud of everyone at MWR for what they’ve given us — TRD (Toyota Racing Development) for all their help. We’ve come a long way in the last 10 or 15 races — we’ve had a really consistent, really good race team. We’ve got a lot of confidence. For us, it was a good day. We were up and down. We were off on the middle part of the race, but we kept digging and worked hard on it. We got back up to fifth, sixth, seventh right there before that last caution and stayed out. That was the call of the race. Just want to thank Chad, thank everybody on the NAPA team, the NAPA car and we’ll see what happens — go to California and try to get to victory lane. We’re getting close.”
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 4th How strong was your race car? “These MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) cars have been good ever since (Martin) Truex was running good at the end of last year. Just real proud of everybody — 5-hour ENERGY, Toyota. Tough call at the end there to come in and pit, but still the right call. We did the right thing there and it got us a top-five. Heck of a day for MWR.”
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 5th How was your race today? “This was pretty good and it felt really good when we were out there leading. It would have been awesome to hold onto that, but it’s the first time back so I can’t complain about that. What an organization. So proud to be a part of getting all three cars in the top-five. Can’t thank Michael Waltrip (team owner) and Rob Kaufmann (team owner) and everyone at MWR enough — I don’t know those two guys that well, but I can tell a lot about them by the group of people they’ve built and the team they’ve built. What an incredible organization. Thanks to Aaron’s for having me on board and I look forward to Martinsville.”
Is this the return you expected to make? “When it’s your only one, you have to make it count. I can’t take any of the credit. Wow, the guys — I’m just proud to be a part of MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) and get three cars in the top-five. What an exciting day. Rodney Childers (crew chief) bolted together my first go-kart 20 years ago and then he handed it off to my father to finish it off and then he just put together my last one and what a heck of a job. He called a great race and everyone did good.” JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 16th
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 20th
TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing Finishing Position: 27th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Clorox / Scott Products Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 28th
LANDON CASSILL, No. 83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing Finishing Position: 29th
JJ YELEY, No. 49 JPO Absorbents Toyota Camry, America Israel Racing Finishing Position: 30th
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 32nd
DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing What happened that caused all the damage to the car? “Short track racing. I think the 5 (Kasey Kahne) got messing with the 78 (Regan Smith). Maybe or the 78 got messing with the 5, however you want to look at it. The next thing you know, the 5 was blocking the race track and everyone was trying to check up. You just can’t check up quick enough and we got caught up in it. Nothing that Kyle (Busch) could have done any different. (Kevin) Harvick got in the back of us and I don’t think there was anything Harvick could have done any different. It was just racing.”
How was your team able to get the car back out? “I’m real proud of this Doublemint crew here. You look and you know it’s not about tenths of a second, you know your cars is messed up, you know it’s not going to be as fast as you want it to be, but what you’re trying to do is salvage as many laps as you can. If you look, we had some really top teams, really good teams caught up in the same wreck as us. I thought we were damaged as bad as anybody and our guys were the first ones to put our car back on the track. Hats off to them. They’ve been working hard all season. We just haven’t been getting the breaks that we want, but we know if we keep pushing hard and we keep working hard and mind our P’s and Q’s that the results will come shortly.”
DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Food Country USA Toyota Camry, Inception Motorsports Finishing Position: 38th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 40th