TOYOTA NASCAR NOTES & QUOTES
August 31 – September 6, 2015
ROAD COURSE REWIND: Tundra driver Erik Jones took the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) points lead with a victory at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park last Sunday, where he was followed to the finish by Toyota drivers Matt Crafton (second) and Ben Kennedy (third). Jones led 12 of the final 18 laps (of 64 total), including the last two laps to the checkered flag – and held off road course ace Alex Tagliani and Crafton for the win. With the victory by Jones, Toyota Tundras have now won on every active NCWTS track. On Saturday, Camry driver Boris Said was the top-finishing Toyota in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) race at Wisconsin’s Road America.
A PLACE BEFORE THE CHASE: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) will visit Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend for the first time since 2003 for the penultimate event before the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Falling two events prior to the Chase, drivers on the cusp of the cutoff will be fighting for strong finishes at Darlington – including Camry driver Clint Bowyer, who currently ranks 15th in points. Bowyer has recorded four top-10 results in his last five NSCS races and another solid showing would strengthen the driver’s grip on a Chase berth. Bowyer has qualified for the Chase five times in his career (2007-08, 2010, 2012-13) and finished second in the series point standings in 2012 – his first year driving a Camry. Camry drivers and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth are all positioned to make the Chase by virtue of their wins and standing in points. Darlington annually hosted NASCAR’s Labor Day race weekend from 1950 through 2003 before the date moved to California’s Auto Club Speedway in 2004 and Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2009.
HAMLIN’S DARLINGTON DATA: Camry driver Hamlin is noted for his strong results in his home state of Virginia, but South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway has also been among his best tracks. In nine NSCS starts at Darlington, Hamlin has the highest average finish among active competitors at the track (6.9) – and has tallied one win (2010), three runner-up results and seven top-10 finishes. In seven NXS races, Hamlin has the highest average finish among drivers with more than one start (3.1) at the South Carolina track by recording three wins (2006-07, 2010), two runner-up results and three pole positions.
THROWBACK LOOKS: As the historic home of Labor Day weekend NASCAR racing, many race teams will feature throwback paint schemes at Darlington this weekend. In the Toyota camp, Camry driver Hamlin will run a Cale Yarborough-inspired paint scheme on both the No. 11 Sports Clips Camry in the NSCS and on the No. 20 Sports Clips Camry in the NXS. Bowyer’s No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Camry will include a hand painted blue and white to honor the late Buddy Baker and his No. 15 Bud Moore Engineering entries.
NOTES, QUOTES & NUMBERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Camry drivers Matt Kenseth (seventh), Denny Hamlin (ninth), Carl Edwards (14th) and Clint Bowyer (15th) currently rank in the top-15 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings … Kyle Busch (29th) is also in the top-30 in the driver point standings, making him Chase eligible after missing the first 11 races of 2015 … Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Busch (2008), Hamlin (2010) and Kenseth (2013) all have Camry wins at Darlington.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What makes Darlington Raceway difficult?
“It’s tough to pass there, for sure. It’s so difficult, so you run your laps until you get to a pit stop and try to get your guys to have a good stop for you so you can jump a couple of guys. Pit stops become really important there, as is track position and trying to stay up front.”
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How will the low downforce package affect the Darlington race?
“With this aero package we are taking to Darlington, I’m really excited about the opportunity to slide the car around and really manage the balance and the tires and the setup. This track is one of the most intimidating race tracks on the circuit and it would be one of the most rewarding at which to get a win. The way we’ve been running lately and the way this package drove at Kentucky, I mean to me Darlington is going to be like Christmas in September. I’m pumped.”
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are you expectations heading to Darlington?
“Darlington has changed a lot over the years. We only race there once a year and it’s a different aero package this time as well, so I’m not sure that anyone really knows what to expect this weekend. The track itself at Darlington seems to age quicker than it does at most of the others racetracks we race at. Darlington is just a really unique place that has changed a lot, especially after the repave. We used to be right up along the fence, but even that has changed with the addition of safer barriers so you never know what Darlington is going to be like until we get on track.”
JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How was the aero package test at Darlington?
“It’s going to be a lot different I think because we haven’t run at Darlington at this time of year in a while. I thought for the tire, it was one of the better tests I’ve been to where the through different aero packages at it. Goodyear brought a tire to kind of get the grip level back up and the lap times when it was all said and done, I thought they were very similar. The fall off seemed to be a little bit more, but all in all that just could have been the time of day, but I think it’s going to make for a good race. Darlington is unique anyway – you run right around the fence, which makes it difficult to pass, but I thought the aero package was good and we were able to work on the car and find some speed and nothing negative with it.”
Will having a purpose built tire for this aero package make a difference?
“It’s too early to tell, but I think so. I thought Goodyear was given enough time to respond to the aero change where maybe at Kentucky they weren’t – otherwise they could have been a little bit different racing than what we saw. All in all thought, I thought Kentucky turned out well from the fans’ perspective. There was a lot of passing, a lot of racing, we saw passing for the lead close to the end of the race. I think we’ll see the same thing at Darlington, but Darlington is so much different than Kentucky so it’s going to be – I don’t know that you can evaluate the aero package or a tire combination by looking at those two race tracks and saying, ‘Okay, how do they differ?’ So anyway, yeah, I think the tire combo will allow everyone with this new package to get a better handle on it than maybe what they had at Kentucky.”
NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS): Camry drivers Daniel Suarez (eighth) and JJ Yeley (12th) currently rank in the top-15 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) point standings … Kyle Busch will return to the No. 54 Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing at Darlington … Busch has won three of six NXS races he’s competed in and has an average finish of sixth or better this season … Suarez will make his debut at Darlington in Saturday’s NXS race.
DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 18 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How do you feel before your first race at Darlington?
“I know it’s a track with a lot of history and it’s the last track on the calendar that I haven’t raced at before. We had some bad luck last race, but we’ve turned the page and everyone on the No. 18 ARRIS Toyota Camry team has been working hard since we got back to Huntersville and we’re looking forward to having a good weekend.”
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): Tundra drivers Erik Jones (first), Matt Crafton (second), Johnny Sauter (fourth), Cameron Hayley (sixth), Timothy Peters (seventh) and Ben Kennedy (10th) currently rank in the top-10 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) point standings … Jones leads Crafton by just three points … Jones (691 laps led) and Crafton (461 laps) have combined to lead more than half of all laps run in the NCWTS this season – 1,152 of 2,255 laps (51 percent) … The NCWTS will enjoy two off weeks before next racing next at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, Sept. 18.
TOYOTA 2015 NASCAR STATISTICS
TOYOTA DRIVER ROSTER – Darlington Raceway (NSCS & NXS)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Camry
Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Camry
Kyle Busch, No. 18 Camry
Carl Edwards, No. 19 Camry
Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Camry
JJ Yeley, No. 23 Camry
Jeb Burton, No. 26 Camry
David Ragan, No. 55 Camry
Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Camry
NASCAR XFINITY Series
Blake Koch, No. 8 Camry
Cale Conley, No. 14 Camry
Daniel Suarez, No. 18 Camry
Jeff Green, No. 19 Camry
Denny Hamlin, No. 20 Camry
Eric McClure, No. 24 Camry
Timmy Hill, No. 26 Camry
JJ Yeley, No. 28 Camry
David Starr, No. 44 Camry
Kyle Busch, No. 54 Camry
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