- Camry driver Denny Hamlin was the top-finishing Toyota driver in Sunday’s rain-postponed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a fourth-place result. Joey Logano won the race, the fourth event of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoffs.
- The fourth-place finish was Hamlin’s sixth top-five result in his last eight NSCS races.
- In addition to Hamlin’s result, Camry driver Carl Edwards (sixth) also finished in the top-10 on the 1.5-mile track.
- Edwards led the field for one lap (of 334), while his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch (20th) and Matt Kenseth (42nd) each led the field once for four laps and 72 circuits, respectively. Both Busch and Kenseth were involved in incidents at Charlotte resulting in their finishing positions.
- Camry driver Clint Bowyer (11th) also tallied a top-20 finish in Charlotte.
- After four of 10 Chase races, Camry drivers Hamlin (fourth, 3040 points), Edwards (sixth, 3039), Busch (ninth, 3025) and Matt Kenseth (12th, points) rank among the top-12 drivers competing for the NSCS championship. Hamlin trails leader Logano by eight points.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
What challenges did you face today with the car?
“Just a little bit everywhere, we were definitely better than what we were in practice no doubt. The FedEx Ground team did a great job. We switched everything overnight to try to get this car better and we got it to a top-five. Step one accomplished.”
How good was the finish today for your points?
“It’s a good day, definitely would have liked – you always want to win just to put that pressure off. A fourth-place finish obviously does good things for us and hopefully we go to Kansas and build on this.”
Did you experience a battery issue?
“I ran on the wrong battery all day so we have one battery I guess to run everything and then one to run the motor so I was draining both of them. My mistake, I usually start on one and run on the other and I just got switched.”
How much did the track change with the race running during the day rather than at night?
“I think the track changed dramatically. I think this is a total different race track than what we would have seen at night. Who knows what the running order would have been if we would have ran last night, but it’s having the versatility in your car that obviously matters and it was good for us.”
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 Arris Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
How was the race?
“Just really tough to pass at the end. We did the best we could and I think if I would have got a better restart then there at the end I think we could have been top-three. It was an okay day for us, decent points day. We really wanted to win, but I feel like there at the end I tried everything I could and I could not catch Kurt (Busch) there in front of me.”
How did the weather conditions change the race track from what a night race might have been?
“I think the weather actually helped us. Our Stanley Toyota was better in the sun so I have no complaints about the weather, it was a good day to race.”
What happened between yourself and Dale Earnhardt Jr.?
“It stinks he (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) ended up hitting the wall. I felt like he blocked me real hard the first time and so the second time I got up there when he came down I just held my ground and we got together. He did an amazing job saving it and I have a ton of respect for him so it stinks that it ruined his day. I have to hold my ground when I’ve got my nose in there. Like I said, it stinks that it ruined their day.”
Does this finish give you confidence heading into Kansas?
“It’s still a crap shoot, anything can happen. You saw what happened today, everybody or a bunch of different guys had problems. Unless you have a win, no one is going to rest easy.”
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 11th
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 20th
What happened with Kyle Larson entering pit road?
“I don’t know. Just can’t say enough about my guys – all the work that they put into these things. They don’t deserve to be put in these situations year in, year out, but we are for some reason. But it’s tough and we’re going to have to battle through with what we’ve got right now. I can’t say enough about what they did on pit road getting us back salvageable. You now, can’t pass anybody – single-lane race track and then you put oil on the top lane to try to make anything happen and then you put yourself in the fence, so thanks to NASCAR for cleaning that up, but just every single year it keeps going the same way.”
ADAM STEVENS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What happened between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson when they were coming to pit road?
“I take away that we put a good car on the track. We were fast, we led a couple laps early, never ran worse than fourth – think we lost a couple spots on the pit stop there and still got a couple of them back and we were going to have a good day. We stayed out there on that caution and Kyle (Busch) faked like he was coming and the 42 (Kyle Larson) in front of us, he was on the opposite end of the commitment cone and there was no way he was going to make it. He panicked, I don’t know what happened there, but them two came together. Then we were behind the eight ball at that point, but still going to have a good day and the track had a little bit of oil on it, didn’t get cleaned up as well, which a lot of people were talking about on the radio. Kyle slipped in it and fenced it and that’s what really did us in. We had to take time to fix that under green and take time to fix it again under yellow and that cost us a lap. Even a lap down, once we got the car repaired, we were as fast as anyone. There were multiple laps where we were the fastest car on the track, even the leaders. I’m proud of the fact that we had speed in our car, but I’m a little disappointed in our finish today and I’m proud of the way we repaired our car and were able to get back out there and salvage some important positions for sure. It’s going to be one of those days that you’re going to look back and say, ‘This is where we lost it or this is where we won it.’ We could have finished 40th or we certainly could have finished in the top-two or three. Time will tell if it’s a good or a bad day for us.”
Did Kyle Busch know the call to stay out the whole time when there was contact with Kyle Larson on pit road?
“He (Kyle Busch) knew the call the whole time, he was just doing what he normally does. The big question is what was the 42 (Kyle Larson) doing. There was no way, whether we were there or not, he turned down so late that he was going to hit the cone – he was going to completely miss the cone on the right or maybe touch it with his left side somewhere, there was no way he was going to get under the cone. I don’t know what he was doing, but you’ll have that sometimes. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional.”
Are you concerned about this finish at the beginning of round two of the Chase?
“You need to average 11th or 12th. Now that might prove me wrong here in a couple weeks, but if you look at the history you need to average 11th or 12th. You can finish 20th and average 11th or 12th. You’d prefer not to have your 20th on the first race, you’d like to save that for Talladega so you don’t have to get up there in the bees nest. You might have to, but at the end of the day if you can average 11th or 12th over those three race span then we’ll move on.”
How do you feel going into Kansas after a solid performance with Erik Jones there in the spring?
“We got to tire test there too or we were part of the open test after the tire test. We have a day under our belts and our equipment is good right now. I think if we can all focus going into the weekend that there is no reason we can’t run up front there too.”
MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 83 Cosmo Motors Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position: 29th
JJ YELEY, No. 26 Maxim Fantasy Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position: 33rd
DAVID RAGAN, No. 55 Aaron’s Online Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 37th
JEB BURTON, No. 23 Dr. Pepper/Estes Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position: 41st
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 42nd
What happened with Ryan Newman?
“Yeah, I don’t know. Everything kind of snowballed, you know? We were real fast out front, we were kind of tight in traffic and got behind pitting and then I missed the pit stall trying to come around the 21 (Ryan Blaney) and had to back up in the pit and that put us back there, so just kind of snowballed. But with Ryan (Newman), I honestly don’t know. I’ve got to go look at it. He went up like I thought he was broke, so I went up through the middle and I thought I left him plenty of room and then next thing I know I was pointed at the fence, you know? I don’t know. I’ve got to rewatch it. There’s not a ton of room over there, but I thought there was enough room for three of us. I just got it in the right rear and put it in the wall, so after that we had the front end bent and we just kind of blew a tire.”
How do you advance to the next Chase round after this incident?
“Well, I really look at it one race at a time to be honest with you. I mean, you do the best you can every week and if this is the best I can do it’s amazing I have a job, but just do our best every week and take it one race at a time. Today, obviously, was a bad day. We had a really fast Dollar General Camry and it wasn’t good when we got back in the pack and, like I said, one thing led to another led to another and then led to me making I guess a couple of mistakes and putting us here, so it’s a down day, but we’ll get her gathered up and go to Kansas and run hard there.”
How frustrating is it to be in the garage in this first Chase race of the second round?
“These are never the kind of days you want to have for sure, but it’s just one of those days. We’re real fast up front and we’re real tight in traffic. We got behind on that first pit deal and then didn’t catch the cautions right and it went green, over shot my pit and put us in the back so it’s just like one thing led to another and led to another. We shouldn’t have ever been back there to start with. My mistakes and they cost us today so we’ll just move on from this and get ready for Kansas.”
How confident are you going into Kansas next week?
“I’m confident. I’ve never stood here after a race and been like, ‘I’m really confident we’re going to win next week.’ It’s way too hard to be that confident, but I’m just as confident as I was this morning. We’ve had really fast race cars and even when we’ve been off a little bit, the guys have been figuring out how to get the finishes and get some wins. We’ll just go there, race as hard as we can and whatever happens, happens and we’ll do the same at Talladega.”