Toyota NSCS California Post-Race Notes & Quotes

TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Post-Race Notes & Quotes Auto Club Speedway – March 25, 2012

Camry driver Kyle Busch (second) was the highest-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday’s rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California.

Toyota drivers Martin Truex Jr. (eighth), Denny Hamlin (11th), Mark Martin (12th) and Clint Bowyer (13th) also earned top-15 finishes in the 129 lap event (shortened from a scheduled 200 laps) at the two-mile oval. Other Toyota drivers in the field included Joey Logano (24th), Bobby Labonte (28th), Travis Kvapil (29th), JJ Yeley (35th), Landon Cassill (36th), David Stremme (39th) and Mike Bliss (40th).

American Muscle

Following California, five Camry drivers are in the top-15 in the unofficial NSCS driver point standings — Truex (fifth), , Hamlin (seventh), Bowyer (eighth), Logano (13th) and Busch (14th).

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 2nd How was your car in Sunday’s race before the rain? “The race started out really good. We had an awesome car — the Interstate Batteries Camry has been fast. We were racing hard with some lap cars and got bottled up and (Tony) Stewart got by me for the lead. I was trying too hard to catch back up to him and see if I couldn’t run him back up and figure out what kind of race car we had. I slipped and got in the fence. We have just been super tight since then. We have to rebalance our car and try to figure out how to do that with the aerodynamics the way they are. We tore up a couple things on the back half of the car that are important to make it turn.”

Are you disappointed the race was stopped by the rain? “No. With our car right now — it needs the rain. Second is great.”

How was your race? “It was really good for us. We had a great race car there from the beginning of the race. Got the lead from Denny (Hamlin) after the first lap, led a lot of laps. I just wish we led 30 more and we’d be in a different position right now. Had a great car. The Interstate Batteries Camry was fast. Can’t say enough about those guys, Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and everybody, for putting together a really good car this weekend. Wish we would have been able to race the whole thing on one hand, but on the other hand I’m kind of glad we’re not because we kind of have a little bit of damage that slowed us down there about 20 laps ago. All in all it was a really good day. Glad we were able to run that way and up front like we’re supposed to and to our potential, that we had a day where we didn’t have attrition or something else get in our way.”

What happened when you were trying to pass Juan Pablo Montoya? “When you’re the leader, those guys, they’re not very courteous. They don’t give you much room. They try to take away your air. My car wasn’t that great in traffic anyway. I found that in practice yesterday driving it in practice. I didn’t think it was going to be that bad. I tried going low on him, he kind of pinched me low, then I tried going high and he kind of drifted up a little bit. Mirror driving me. (Tony) Stewart was better in traffic. He had to deal with that most of the day. Wasn’t the time in the race to push the issue. Let Stewart go, he got by. (Juan Pablo) Montoya gave me the spot. Trying to run back with Stewart’s lap times, that’s when I was trying too hard, too close to the fence, got myself in trouble there, caught the right side a little bit. Overall glad that the rains came when they did, as heavy as they were, we were able to go home with a second-place finish.”

Did the approaching rain affect your strategy during the race? “With the rain coming on, we all knew it was just going to be a matter of time. Probably lap 60 or 70 we were all thinking, Okay, we’re going to race to lap 100 here because that’s halfway. Whoever is leading after halfway, if the rains get here right in time, you’ll be the winner. That’s how we all started playing it. Pit strategy kind of played into that role. We actually could have went probably five more laps on fuel, but everybody started short pitting, so we kind of came in and got tires as quick as we could so we didn’t lose time to the rest of the guys, get ourselves boxed out with traffic maybe a few laps later.”

Why is Joe Gibbs Racing dominant at California in the Nationwide Series but not able to win in Cup? “I think the biggest thing is how many good teams there are here in the Cup Series. You have a lot of good teams: Hendrick, Roush, Stewart-Haas, Gibbs, RCR (Richard Childress Racing. We just haven’t quite found it yet. Why it’s been this long that JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) hasn’t won at all, I have no idea. Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart through the years, ’90s and 2000s, would destroy everybody at Michigan, Atlanta, fast places like that, but never had much success here, whether they finished second or third, I don’t know how many times, but never won. Another close day today. Again, I just thought our car was really good at the onset of the race. Once the track really rubbered in, every lane was black, our speed fell off a titch, where Stewart kept digging and was still mowing them down.” MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 8th How was your race car today? “We were a bit off at the start of the race. We made some changes during ‘Happy Hour’ and kind of missed it a little bit, but the guys worked hard on the NAPA Toyota. At one point there we were as fast as the leader for the whole run. You run 130 laps with no caution it can kind of get strung out, but we were able to maintain and obviously stay on the lead lap. We started making some positions up after about lap 80 or so. The very last run there we got too loose and we gave about two of the spots back. Overall, it’s been a decent day. This place was really tough on us last year. It’s nice to come in here and have a decent run — something we can build on.”

Did you feel good about your car coming into the race? “Yeah. I did. I knew this was going to be one of the challenges for us. Like I said, this place has been tough on us. We’ve always been fast here for part of the race and really had trouble closing or finishing off the deal. Right now we’re sitting in a decent position. I wouldn’t mind if it just kept raining and we get out of here.”

What did you do during a rain delay? “Wait. Just wait. Do what they tell us. I’m going to talk to the guys and see what they think and talk about the car while it’s fresh in my mind. Then go there. From there it’s just wait and see what happens.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 11th Why did you pit before the last caution for rain? “Even if it is a small (rain) cell and it gets the track wet, you’re out an hour. If there’s any cell within an hour than you’re in big trouble. This is the strategy that we made. We were planning on the race going back green. If it doesn’t, then we’ll lose some spots. If we chose to stay out there, then we were going to have to be behind all the cars that pitted. Then you’re chances of winning decreases greatly. You either give up a few spots if it finishes up here, or you lose a chance to win in the grand scheme of things.”

How was your car during the race? “We would lose a lot of time somewhere. Between coming in and leaving, we’d lose three or four seconds and have to make the whole run to try to get that back together. We finally got to Tony’s (Stewarts) bumper and the rain came out. We’ve gotten our car better, we’re just going to keep working on it and see if we can’t make it a race-winning car.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (cont.) Were you committed to pit under caution regardless of the rain? “Yeah. In our mind if the race went back green, your chances of winning really decrease greatly because all the cars pitted and you have to restart behind them. For us, we either lose some spots now if the rain ends or it’s just a situation where we put ourselves in a good situation to win if it goes back green.”

Are you frustrated that you had a car capable of winning and the rain was shortened by rain? “A little bit. We have a good car. We have a top-two or (top-)three car — had it all day. We just now got it to where we can run these guys down and get to Tony (Stewart) and then it rains. It’s just one of those things. We’ll see what we have here.”

Was pitting a risky move? “I feel we took the safe move. The risky move was to stay out. If this goes back green, Tony (Stewart) is going to have to restart way in the back. It’s going to really hurt your chances of winning the race. For us to give up some positions, it looks like we’ll give up about nine positions and finish 11th, or we’ll have a good chance to win it if it goes back green.”

MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 12th

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 13th

JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 24th

BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 28th

TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing Finishing Position: 29th

JJ YELEY, No. 49 American Israel Toyota Camry Finishing Position: 35th

LANDON CASSILL, No. 83 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing Finishing Position: 36th

DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Inception Motorsports Toyota Camry, Inception Motorsports Finishing Position: 39th

MIKE BLISS, No. 19 TriStar Motorsports Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports Finishing Position: 40th

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